Feb 27: Buonasera Mag
Day 368: Bakhmut Yahidne Crimea stamps China Tinkoff IranDrones EU Poland Guatemala A&Ps-UALondon UKDef Aslund TaiwanPlus Banksy Michta Rosenberg Kaleniuk Campbell Matviichuk WomenToFollow
EA Worldview’s Ukraine Up-date- hop over to Scott’s amazing hourly Ukraine up-date page. I’ll fill in with some bits and bobs.
Stories we’re following…
Land Forces сhief visits Bakhmut as fierce fighting continues on city outskirts. In his visit to command posts in the frontline city, Syrskyi assessed the state of units fighting in the area and listened to problems and requests raised by their commanders, the report said.
Ukraine’s military said that Russia conducted unsuccessful offensives near Yahidne over the past day, after Russia’s Wagner mercenary group claimed to have captured the village in eastern Ukraine near the focus on intense fighting. Prigozhin said on Saturday his forces had captured Yahidne. On Friday, he had claimed control of Berkhivka, an adjacent village on the outskirts of Bakhmut. But the Ukrainian bulletin said attacks were continuing, citing “unsuccessful offensives” near six settlements, including Yahidne and Berkhivka.
In early March 2022, as Russian troops approached Kyiv, the last stronghold on the way to the Ukrainian capital was the town of Moshchun. Russian marines built three pontoon bridges to gain a foothold across the Irpin River. After days of heavy combat, Ukrainian forces managed to destroy two pontoons but asked their high command to retreat due to heavy losses. They were denied, as that would have opened the road to Kyiv. Instead, by blowing up a dam of the Kyiv Reservoir, Ukrainian forces flooded Irpin -- allowing them to regroup and push back Russian troops who were suddenly stuck in a swamp.
UK Defense Ministry: Russia's 'elite' forces suffer heavy losses in Donetsk Oblast. Russia's 155th Naval Infantry (NI) Brigade has "almost certainly been significantly degraded" due to inexperienced mobilized personnel and heavy losses, reports the U.K. Defense Ministry.
Zelensky on 9-year anniversary of Russian occupation in Crimea: 'We will return it.' President Volodymyr Zelensky marked the nine-year anniversary of the Russian occupation in Crimea, stating that "By returning Crimea, we will restore peace."
Ukrenergo: No power deficit in Ukraine. For the past two weeks, there has been no power deficit in Ukraine’s energy system, according to the country’s state-owned power grid operator Ukrenergo.
Ukraine says spring counteroffensive to target south. Ukraine's upcoming spring counteroffensive will aim to "drive a wedge into the Russian front in the south between Crimea and mainland Russia," Vadym Skibitsky, deputy head of Ukrainian military intelligence, said in an interview with German media, DW reported. Reuters also reported that Skibitsky raised the possibility of future Ukrainian strikes on “arms depots or military equipment on Russian territory, for example around the city of Belgorod, from where attacks on Ukraine are launched”.
General Staff: Russia intensifies persecution of civilians in occupied areas. Russians are increasingly pressuring civilians and raiding their homes in the occupied parts of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia oblasts, the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces reported on Feb. 25.
Putin has said that Russia had no choice but to take into account the nuclear capabilities of Nato as the US-led military alliance was seeking the defeat of Russia.
“In today’s conditions, when all the leading Nato countries have declared their main goal as inflicting a strategic defeat on us, so that our people suffer as they say, how can we ignore their nuclear capabilities in these conditions?” Putin told Rossiya 1 state television, according to Tass.
Ukrainian children showcased at Moscow event lost their mother to Russian shelling in Mariupol. Two abducted Ukrainian children showcased at Russian President Vladimir Putin's propaganda concert in Moscow on Feb. 22 had lost their mother to Russian shelling in Mariupol earlier in the war, independent Russian media outlet Important Stories reported.
UK Defense Ministry: Russia has likely run out of Iranian-made drones. Since around Feb. 15, there have been no reports of Russia using Iranian-made “one-way attack” drones to carry out strikes against Ukraine, the U.K. Defense Ministry said in its latest intelligence update. According to the ministry, the lack of Iranian-made drone deployments “likely indicates that Russia has run down its current stock.”
European Council sanctions 11 Wagner-linked individuals and 7 entities. The European Union’s top diplomat Josep Borrell said in a statement that Wagner is a threat to “international peace and security as they do not operate within any legal framework.”
Russian online bank Tinkoff, run by TCS Group Holding, said it would suspend trading in euros from Monday following the imposition of a further set of European Union sanctions.
The German defence minister, Boris Pistorius, said it was up to Kyiv to decide when, and under what conditions, to enter talks with Moscow. He suggested the same was true for any decision on recapturing the Crimean peninsula that Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014.
Russia stops oil supply to Poland. Russia stopped sending oil to Poland through the Druzhba (Friendship) pipeline, Polish refiner PKN Orlen's chief executive Daniel Obajtek said on Twitter on Feb. 25.
Ukraine's electricity supply has stabilized, meaning scheduled cuts may not be required, Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko said on television on Feb. 25. The country may even consider restarting electricity exports to Europe, which were suspended after Russia had begun attacking Ukraine's power plants and grid with waves of missile and drone strikes in October.
G20 meeting ends without joint statement after China, Russia oppose condemning invasion of Ukraine. China and Russia took issue with two paragraphs of the G20 Chair’s Summary and Outcome Document as member states' finance ministers and central bank governors met in Bangalore. The text firmly condemned Russia's war against Ukraine and demanded Russian forces' unconditional withdrawal from Ukrainian territory.
China lethal aid to Russia would come at 'real costs', says White House. China has not moved towards providing lethal aid that would help Russia in its invasion of Ukraine and the United States has made clear behind closed doors that such a move would have serious consequences, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Sunday.
Guatemala to join Core Group on Special Tribunal for Russian crime of aggression. Guatemala will join the Core Group on the Special Tribunal for the Russian crime of aggression, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said after meeting his Guatemalan counterpart on Feb. 24.
Ex-Wagner Group commander arrested in Norway for attacking police. Andrei Medvedev, who sought asylum in Norway in January, reportedly fought outside a bar in Oslo on Feb. 22. He allegedly resisted arrest and “kicked one or more officers,” according to the court files.
Ukraine has issued a postage stamp with a reproduction of a Banksy mural, of a boy defeating a grown man in judo, to mark the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion. It was painted by the British street artist on a demolished wall in the town of Borodianka, north-west of Kyiv, where many buildings were reduced to rubble by Russian aircraft at the start of the invasion.
Andrew A Michta on ‘Peace Talks’
Any peace deal now would amount to a Russian victory. Pushing for negotiations now would amount to another case of appeasement towards Russia. 2. No country in Europe has military power sufficient to guarantee Ukraine's security without the United States at the table.
If you doubt me, ask yourself which country other than the US has logistical capacity to execute the supply operation that has kept Ukraine in the fight for a year. 3. A guarantee against Russia must include a credible nuclear deterrent. Which EUR country could provide it?
Finally, 4. Why do we see these leaks now? Putin knows very well how disarmed Europe has become over the past 30yrs. What are we trying to communicate to Moscow other than that we're uncertain, have no staying power and want the war to end ASAP regardless of the consequences.
So, let's ask European politicians to focus on fulfilling their weapons pledges to Ukraine, let's stop brainstorming such "peace talks" solutions as they have no credibility and no enforcement mechanism. Let's give Ukraine what it needs to win.
Steve Rosenberg, How Putin's fate is tied to Russia's war in Ukraine- BBC
I keep thinking back to something I heard on Russian state TV three years ago.
At the time Russians were being urged to support changes to the constitution that would enable Vladimir Putin to stay in power for another 16 years.
To persuade the public, the news anchor portrayed President Putin as a sea captain steering the good ship Russia through stormy waters of global unrest.
"Russia is an oasis of stability, a safe harbour," he continued. "If it wasn't for Putin what would have become of us?"
So much for an oasis of stability and safe harbour. On 24 February 2022, the Kremlin captain set sail in a storm of his own making. And headed straight for the iceberg.
So why did Russia's president set a course for war and territorial conquest? This week he gave us some clues.
His state-of-the-nation address was packed with anti-Western bile. He continues to blame America and Nato for the war in Ukraine, and to portray Russia as an innocent party. His decision to suspend participation in the last remaining nuclear arms control treaty between Russia and America, New Start, shows that President Putin has no intention of pulling back from Ukraine or ending his standoff with the West.
The following day, at a Moscow football stadium, Mr Putin shared the stage with Russian soldiers back from the front line. At what was a highly choreographed pro-Kremlin rally, President Putin told the crowd that "there are battles going on right now on [Russia's] historical frontiers" and praised Russia's "courageous warriors".
Conclusion: don't expect any Kremlin U-turns. This Russian president is not for turning.
Duncan Campbell, How Russian intelligence hacked the encrypted emails of former MI6 boss Richard Dearlove- Computer Weekly
A Russian cyber attack group has been targeting politicians, journalists, and military and intelligence officials across Britain and Europe for at least seven years, and may have stockpiled access to and data from target computers and phones for future operations, according to data analysed by Computer Weekly.
The group’s greatest success to date has been to publicly compromise emails and documents from Richard Dearlove, a top British spy chief and former head of MI6, as well as over 60 others in a secretive network of right-wing activists set up in 1988 to campaign for extreme separation of Britain from the European Union. Dearlove was chief of the UK Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) from 1999 to 2004, holding the post immortalised in James Bond films and fiction as “M” – although in real life the role is known as “C”.
Soon after the Iraq war, Dearlove left SIS to become master of Pembroke College Cambridge. In August 2018, after leaving Cambridge, Dearlove joined with retired history academic Professor Gwythian Prins to launch a covert operation called Operation Surprise. The declared goal of Operation Surprise was to create a “Continuity Leave vehicle” to “block any deal” negotiated by then Prime Minister Theresa May.
The group’s “political aims” included, “if necessary, to remove this Prime Minister and replace with one fit for purpose”, and “in due course, to cleanse the polluted civil service from top to bottom”.
Tune in for Justice for Ukraine- CEPA
Speakers: Oleksandra Matviichuk, Head, Centre for Civil Liberties, Mouaz Moustafa, Executive Director, Syrian Emergency Task Force, Stephen Rapp, Board of Advisors, International Criminal Court Project; Former US Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues, Yevgeny Vindman, Director, Military Analysis / Prosecution Support Cell, Atrocity Crimes Advisory Group; Former Deputy Legal Advisor, National Security Council Moderated by: Olga Lautman.