Russo-Ukraine War - 18 May 2022 - Day 84
On 24 February 2022, Ukraine was suddenly and deliberately attacked by land, naval and air forces of Russia, igniting the largest European war since the Great Patriotic War. Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a "special military operation" in Ukraine in response to the appeal of the leaders of the "Donbass republics" for help. That attack is a blatant violation of the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine. Putin stressed that Moscow's goal is the demilitarization and denazification of the country. The military buildup in preceeding months makes it obvious that the unprovoked and dastardly Russian attack was deliberately planned long in advance. During the intervening time, the Russian government had deliberately sought to deceive the world by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.
"To initiate a war of aggression... is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole." [Judgment of the International Military Tribunal]
The eighty-fourth day of the heroic opposition of the Ukrainian people to the Russian military invasion continues. The Russians continued its offensive in the Eastern Operational Zone. Russians exerted fire along the entire line of contact and in the depths of the defense of Ukrainian troops in the Donetsk operational area and in the Slavic direction, taking measures to strengthen the offensive group.
Ukraine, in negotiating to evacuate its fighters from the Azovstal steel plant, likely agreed to Russia’s probable condition of surrender and ordered its troops to do so, the Institute for the Study of War suggested. “Mariupol defenders trapped in the Azovstal Steel Plant likely surrendered after Ukrainian officials negotiated evacuation measures with the Kremlin,” the institute said in its latest campaign assessment. “The Kremlin might have agreed to the conditional surrender of the Azovstal defenders to accelerate Russia’s ability to declare Mariupol fully under its control,” it added.
The Ukrainian military in Mariupol are surrendering, and this is the only true interpretation. This was announced by the press secretary of the President of Russia Dmitry Peskov. According to him, Kyiv's attempts to present the surrender of Azovstal militants as an "evacuation" or a humanitarian action are wrong. “The interpretation is unambiguous - they give up,” said Peskov.
The commander of the Vostok battalion (DPR), Alexander Khodakovsky , said that 785 Ukrainian militants came out and surrendered through the area at Azovstal, which is controlled by his unit on May 18. The militants who remain at the blocked enterprise are trying to destroy the digital traces of their crimes. “They are accumulating in the territory that we still leave under their control, preparing to leave, and, as I said, they are breaking their phones, tablets and laptops before our eyes. Prudent, ” said the battalion commander.
Russia’s defence ministry said that 694 Ukrainian fighters who had been holed up in Mariupol’s Azovstal steelworks have surrendered over the past 24 hours, according to a report by the country’s RIA news agency. The development means that since Monday, a total of 959 fighters who had been holding out at the plant have surrendered, 80 of whom were wounded, RIA reported, citing the ministry.
Top-ranking Ukrainian commanders holed up at Mariupol’s Azovstal steelworks are yet to surrender, local media quoted pro-Russian separatist leader Denis Pushilin as saying. Pushilin, who heads the self-declared breakaway Donetsk People’s Republic, said that the hundreds of fighters who had given themselves up did not include any commanders of the highest level, the Donetsk News Agency (DAN) reported. “They have not left [the plant],” he said.
Hundreds of Ukrainian fighters from the Azov battalion who surrendered to Russian and separatist forces should be sentenced to death, a Russian senator said. Russia bans death penalty, but the separatist “People’s Republics” of Donetsk and Luhansk live according to Josef Stalin’s constitution that prescribes capital punishment for a number of crimes. “All the neo-Nazis from Azov should be tried for the crimes they committed in Donetsk and Luhansk,” senator Andrey Klichas said. The Ukrainian nationalists who surrendered from Azovstal should wait for trial in the DPR and LPR, where the death penalty has not been abolished, and they should not be subject to exchange. This was stated in his telegram channel by the head of the Crimea Sergey Aksyonov.
The Ukrainian military leadership said the Azovstal defenders forced Moscow to maintain some 20,000 troops in Mariupol, though some reports indicate the number was significantly lower. Russia had already begun to move troops out of Mariupol as Azovstal became the last baston of resistance. The defenders had been running low on food and water as well as medicine and surgical equipment. Their fate became the subject of nightly news at home and abroad with pleas to let them go.
Ukraine and Russia have suspended negotiations to end the war for the time being. Kyiv’s negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak said on Ukrainian television that progress could not be made in talks if Russia did not recognise the situation on the ground. “To this day, they live in a world where there is supposedly a Ukrainian Nazism,” Podolyak said, adding there was only “Russian Nazism”. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said there is currently no movement in negotiations with Ukraine about ending the war, and accused Kyiv of showing a total unwillingness to continue the talks. “Negotiations are not progressing and we note the complete unwillingness of Ukrainian negotiators to continue this process,” he said.
The "Senior Defense Official" assessed that there were 106 operational BTGs in Ukraine. In terms of the geographic groupings of troops, they get their names from where they came inside Russia, not for where they are necessarily operating in Ukraine. And I'm not sure I was completely clear about that. So, the eastern, central and western groupings of troops are basically operating in the vicinity of Izyum and Kharkiv. And the southern grouping of troops is essentially operating in the vicinity of, around, north of Mariupol and the Kherson area. That's basically how they're laid out. And so with the southern grouping of troops makes perfect sense, they're operating in the south of Ukraine, they came from the southern district of Russia.
There were really only two lines of axes where the Russians made any appreciable progress. The first is between Kherson and Mykolayiv, and it's really more towards pushing closer towards the Black Sea. They've been battling it out between Mykolayiv and Kherson. The Russians made some incremental progress in the direction of the Black Sea. And then the other line of axis that they've continued to make, limited, but, some appreciable progress is coming out of Donetsk towards that town, Velyka Novosilka, which is where they moved their troops out of Mariupol to just south of that town.
Russian offensive operations became smaller in their size and scale and their objectives became more localized. Towns and villages and sometimes crossroads the Russians are trying to achieve. So it's just sort of a shrinking of their objectives and their goals. And that also corresponds to the size of units that are involved in these smaller objectives - company-sized units get involved in the movements. Battalion tactical groups is how they organize, but in the last few days there were smaller, more localized approach using smaller units, which makes perfect sense.
There just hasn't been much progress in the Donbas, a lot of back and forth, again, fighting at a smaller scale. They still have not corrected their coordination issues. They're still not integrating their units very well. Their communications are still not very efficient between commanders. Even at this smaller level, they stick very closely to their doctrine of artillery fire, then a frontal attack by formations that are small, and in some cases, not fully resourced, fully manned, fully strong, and they get rebuffed by the Ukrainians.
The UK Ministry of Defence reported that despite Russian forces having encircled Mariupol for over ten weeks, staunch Ukrainian resistance delayed Russia’s ability to gain full control over the city. This frustrated its early attempts to capture a key city and inflicted costly personnel losses amongst Russian forces. In attempting to overcome Ukrainian resistance, Russia has made significant use of auxiliary personnel. This includes a deployment of Chechen forces, likely consisting of several thousand fighters primarily concentrated in the Mariupol and Luhansk sectors. These forces likely consist of both individual volunteers and National Guard units, which are routinely dedicated to securing the rule of Chechen Republic Head, Ramazan Kadyrov. Kadyrov likely maintains close personal oversight of the deployment, while his cousin Adam Delimkhanov has likely acted as the Chechen field commander in Mariupol. The combat deployment of such disparate personnel demonstrates Russia's significant resourcing problems in Ukraine and is likely contributing to a disunited command which continues to hamper Russia’s operations.
In the Volyn and Polissya areas, certain units of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus continued to carry out tasks to cover the Ukrainian-Belarusian border. The second stage of the combat readiness check was underway in the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus until May 21. Issues of forcing water barriers and checking the next forces and means of air defense are being worked out. The threat of missile and bomb strikes from the territory of the Republic of Belarus remained.
In the northern direction, Russians units fired artillery and mortars at the settlements of Yanzhulivka and Progress, Chernihiv and Sumy regions, respectively. The Russians continued to equip additional firing positions and defensive structures in the border areas of Bryansk and Kursk regions. The Russians conducted air reconnaissance with the use of UAVs in order to identify units of Ukrainian troops, artillery positions and deployment routes.
According to available information, units of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation stationed in the border areas of the Kursk region are replenishing supplies of logistics and ammunition. In the Slobozhansky direction, in the border areas of Belgorod and Voronezh regions, the occupiers continued to keep units of the 32nd Air Defense Division of the 6th Air Force and the Air Defense Forces of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation ready for use.
In the Kharkiv direction, the Russians's main efforts were focused on maintaining the occupied frontiers and firing on units of Ukrainian troops. The Russians tried to counterattack in order to restore the lost positions. As a result of the offensive of Ukrainian troops, the settlement of Dementievka was liberated. The Russians were advancing in the area of the settlement of Ternov, fighting continues. In the Slavic direction, the occupiers, with the support of artillery, fought in the Dovgenky area, had no success, and suffered losses. The Russians increased the intensity of air reconnaissance with the use of UAVs.
Northeast of Kharkiv, the Ukrainians pushed back Russians closer to the Russian border. In some places, it's as close as three to four kilometers, in other places to the northeast of Kharkiv, it could be as much as 10 kilometers. It varies. It's not a uniform line of contact here that can be drawn with a ruler. It changes based on the terrain and the strength of both sides, but essentially, the Ukrainians continued to push the Russians back closer to the border and to reinforce themselves in the process of doing that as well, with their own capability, including artillery capability.
The pontoon crossing for the Armed Forces of Ukraine on the Seversky Donets River was destroyed by the Russian military. This was announced by the official representative of the Russian Defense Ministry, Major General Igor Konashenkov at a briefing. He clarified that the Ukrainian military had built a pontoon crossing to force the Seversky Donets River near the village of Protopopovka in the Kharkiv region. The crossing was destroyed as a result of the actions of Russian missile forces and artillery.
In the Donetsk direction, the Russians fired on the positions of units of Ukrainian troops along the line of contact from the entire spectrum of weapons, including aircraft. In the Lyman direction, the occupiers were trying to gain a foothold on the previously occupied borders. The Russians used aircraft to strike at civilian targets in the areas of Toshkivka, Zolote, Avdiivka, Volodymyrivka and Vodiane. In the Severodonetsk direction, the Russians carried out assault operations in the area of the settlement of Nizhne, without success. In the Bakhmut direction, the Russians were conducting offensive operations, trying to improve the tactical situation. They carried out assault operations in the area of the settlement of Katerynivka, has no success.
In the Avdiivka direction, the Russians conducted offensive operations in the area of the settlement of Novoselivka, suffered losses, and retreated. The assaults of the Russian occupiers near the settlements of Novobakhmutivka and Vesele were unsuccessful. In the Kurakhiv direction, the Russians launched an offensive in the area of the settlement of Pobeda, without success. In the Novopavlovsk and Zaporizhzhya directions, the occupiers did not conduct active hostilities, though they fired artillery and mortar shells at infrastructure facilities and residential buildings in the settlements of Novoandriyivka, Kamyanske, Orikhiv, Olhivske and Poltavka.
In the South Bug direction, the Russians fired on the settlements of Lupareve, Posad-Pokrovske, Vysunsk, Osokorivka and Novovorontsovka. The Russians continued the measures of engineering equipment positions. In order to adjust the artillery fire, he used the Orlan-10 UAV. No significant changes have been recorded in the Bessarabian direction.
In the air domain, Russian sortie count, again, came in over the last 24 hours at about 225. So again, right in that window seen in most days. Between 200 and 300 strikes are focused on Kharkiv, in the Donbas mostly. And no real changes in the maritime environment worth speaking to. The Russians are still trying to, what movement we're seeing is them trying to reinforce their positions on Snake Island, but nothing indicative of a pending, you know, amphibious assault or anything like that.
According to available information, on May 16-17, spontaneous protests of members of the families of persons forcibly mobilized to the ranks of the occupying forces took place in the temporarily occupied territory of Luhansk region. Protests were recorded in Luhansk and Rovenky.
A total of 79 of the 90, U.S.-provided M777s are now forward with the Ukrainian military. They're providing long-range indirect fire capability. And of the 209,000 rounds of 155 ammunition that we committed to Ukraine, 75 percent, more than 156,000 of those rounds, have been transferred to the Ukrainian military. So the majority of the committed 155 rounds are in country. Three of the 11 Mi-17s have been transferred to the Ukrainian military. All the radars that we promised, the TPQs 36 and 37 and 64 all of them have been transferred to the Ukrainian military now. Of the Switchblades, of the 300 that were announced, there are more than 200 of them in country, and nearly 10 of the Phoenix Ghost UASs are in Ukrainian hands.
There were no indications that the Russians have actually hit any storage of shipments coming from western nations. The West hadn't seen anything in the last 24 hours that even indicate that they were even trying to disrupt the shipments. But they've hit rail hubs, they've hit electrical power stations. They've targeted what they believe to be storage facilities. They are certainly trying to disrupt that flow but there were no indications that they had been successful with that and the flow continues.
the US Congress approved a bill to allocate additional assistance to Ukraine in the amount of about $40 billion. Initially, the US administration proposed to allocate $33 billion in excess of the plan for assistance to Kyiv. Congress increased this amount to 40 billion. As the head of the US foreign policy department noted, the provision of "additional weapons and equipment from the warehouses of the US Department of Defense in order to protect Ukraine in the amount of up to $100 million" was approved. According to him, "taking this into account, the total volume of US military assistance to Ukraine in the form of weapons and equipment reaches approximately $3.9 billion." Earlier it was reported that Biden intends to approve the allocation of additional military assistance to Ukraine in the amount of $100 million. This assistance will include counter-battery radar and artillery shells.
Germany’s defence ministry says Berlin will give the Czech Republic 15 Leopard 2 tanks as part of a “ring exchange” ["Ringtausch"] program under which it aims to help countries pass their stocks of Soviet weaponry to Ukraine. The ministry said it would pay for the transaction and train the Czechs to use the Leopard 2 A4 tanks. The Czechs have existing stocks of old Soviet tanks with which Ukrainian soldiers are already familiar. “The exchange is another good example of how we are helping Ukraine in its brave fight against Russian aggression,” Defence Minister Christine Lambert said. “The Czechs deliver heavy weapons, and we fill the resulting holes with Leopard tanks.”
In the first trial of its kind since the war began, Vadim Shishimarin, 21, was accused of killing a civilian in Ukraine’s Sumy region. The Russian soldier accused of war crimes in Ukraine pled guilty to killing a civilian. Shishimarin appeared in a Kyiv court accused of shooting a Ukrainian man in the head in the country’s northeastern Sumy region on February 28, four days into Moscow’s invasion.
The reunification of the Donetsk People's Republic with Russia is actually a settled issue, but it will happen a little later, DPR head Denis Pushilin told reporters. According to him, today the republic faces another task - to restore control over the constitutional territory. “The initial task for the DPR is to reach its constitutional borders. A decision will be made on what to do next, and we understand perfectly well what decision it will be. Residents of Donbass made their choice back in 2014 - this choice towards Russia, nothing will change,” Pushilin said.
After three months of closure, the US flag is flying over the American embassy in Kyiv once again. “We are officially reopening operations,” spokesperson Daniel Langenkamp told Reuters, adding that a small number of diplomats would return initially to staff the mission. The news was also confirmed by US State Secretary Anthony Blinken: “The Ukrainian people, with our security assistance, have defended their homeland in the face of Russia’s unconscionable invasion, and, as a result, the Stars and Stripes are flying over the Embassy once again,” he said in a statement.
About 300,000 tonnes of Ukrainian wheat booked by Egypt’s state grains buyer for delivery in February and March is yet to be shipped, with one cargo stuck in port and four others still to be loaded, four traders have said, according to a report by the Reuters news agency. Egypt’s General Authority For Supply Commodities (GASC) has granted an extension to secure the cargoes but is not offering trading companies any force majeure release from contractual obligations, according to traders. Egypt, typically the world’s largest wheat importer, depended heavily on shipments of Black Sea wheat that were disrupted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The illiterate macroeconomic steps of the West undermined food security in the world, problems in this area began long before the start of the military special operation in Ukraine. This was stated by Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov, answering questions from the media. "Food security has been undermined for several years by the illiterate macroeconomic steps of the collective West, exacerbated by the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. In other words, problems arose long before the start of the Russian special operation in Ukraine," the embassy's press service quoted him as saying in his Telegram channel.
Antonov added that the aggravation of the food crisis came after a wave of "unilateral and illegitimate anti-Russian sanctions, which undermined the credibility of Western governments due to the unpredictability of their actions, as well as disrupted supply chains and created disruptions in international financial flows." In this regard, he noted that "the statements of the Westerners that their bans do not concern the supply of food and fertilizers are slyness," since "the situation on the world food markets is directly affected by sanctions in the financial and transport sectors."
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