Russo-Ukraine War - 19 May 2022 - Day 85
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 UK Ministry of Defence reported that in recent weeks, Russia has fired senior commanders who are considered to have performed poorly during the opening stages of its invasion of Ukraine. Lieutenant General Serhiy Kisel, who commanded the elite 1st Guards Tank Army, was suspended for his failure to capture Kharkiv. Vice Admiral Igor Osipov, who commanded Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, was also likely been suspended following the sinking of the cruiser Moskva in April. Russian Chief of the General Staff Valeriy Gerasimov likely remains in post, but it is unclear whether he retains the confidence of President Putin. A culture of cover-ups and scape-goating is probably prevalent within the Russian military and security system. Many officials involved in the invasion of Ukraine will likely be increasingly distracted by efforts to avoid personal culpability for Russia’s operational set-backs. This will likely place further strain on Russia's centralised model of command and control, as officers increasingly seek to defer key decisions to their superiors. It will be difficult for Russia to regain the initiative under these conditions.
A senior Pentagon official said that the Ukraine war could continue for a long time despite Kyiv’s forces recapturing the Kharkiv region and their use of substantial US artillery supplies. The official cautioned against analysts saying that Russian forces are stretched to capacity and could within weeks reach a point at which they are no longer able to advance. “It’s difficult to know where this is going to go over time,” said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity. he official praised Ukrainian forces for their command and control, cohesion and spirit, calling it “nothing short of historic” compared to the Russian forces. However, the official said, the Russians still possess a numerical advantage and a “significant amount” of combat capacity in reserve, and are holding their ground along a long front from the Donbas south and west toward Mykolaiv. “All of that, combined with the fact that we’re talking about an area of Ukraine that these two sides have been fighting over for eight years, leads us to continue to believe that this could be a prolonged fight,” the official said.
The Pentagon official said Russian forces face continuing issues in sustaining their invasion. “Combat capability itself doesn’t win wars. You got to have the will to fight, you have to have good leadership. You have to have command and control, and they’re suffering from that,” the official said. But the official said that, after Ukrainian forces recently forced Russians away from Kharkiv, the country’s second largest city, neither side is making major gains along their long front.
An analyst who posts well-informed, detailed daily updates of the war situation on Twitter under the pseudonym “Jomini of the West” referred to military theorist Carl von Clausewitz’s concept of a “culminating point,” the peak of a military’s fighting ability after which its attack cannot be sustained. “Russian forces may be coming close to a culmination point in which they will have no choice but to halt offensive action for a more extensive refit to reconstitute combat losses,” the analyst wrote. The main focus of the Russians was on the Donetsk direction, where he used aircraft, artillery and mortars. In the Volyn and Polissya areas, the situation has not changed significantly. The threat of missile and bomb strikes on civilian and military infrastructure from the territory of the Republic of Belarus remains.
In the northern direction, the Russians continue to equip additional firing positions and defensive structures in the border areas of Bryansk and Kursk regions. In order to clarify the position of Ukrainian units, artillery positions and deployment routes, the Russians conducted air reconnaissance with the help of UAVs. The Russians fired artillery and mortars at the border settlements of the Sumy region: Esman, Sopych and Seredyna-Buda.
Russians attacked in multiple directions out from Popasna and reportedly captured Vrubivka and Druzhba. In the Slobozhansky direction, the Russians focused its efforts on maintaining its occupied positions and preventing the Defense Forces from advancing into the temporarily occupied territory. In some areas they tried to conduct unsuccessful counterattacks in order to restore lost positions. Fighting continued in the areas of Ternovo and Borshchiv. The Russians were conducting enhanced air reconnaissance.
Units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (APU) in the area of the settlements of Gorskoye and Zolote on the outskirts of Lysichansk are blocked. This was stated by the Ambassador of the Lugansk People's Republic in Russia, Rodion Miroshnik. "Ketelok" <...> Gorskoye and Zolote on the outskirts of Lisichansk - the Ukrainian group is really blocked," he said on the air of the Rossiya-1 TV channel . Miroshnik noted that in the triangle Lisichansk - Rubizhnoye - Severodonetsk, the "cauldron lid" may soon be slammed.
In the Slavic direction, the Russians fired on civilian infrastructure in the areas of the settlements of Pryshib, Hrushuvakha and Bogorodichne. In the Donetsk direction, in order to improve the tactical situation in some areas, the Russians intensified offensive and assault operations. In the area of Severodonetsk the Russians carried out assault actions, suffered losses and retreated to previously occupied positions. Fighting continued in the area of the settlement of Toshkivka. The Russians carried out offensive operations in the area of the settlement of Oleksandropil (until 2016 - Rozivka) of the Yasynuvata district and tried to improve the tactical situation in the areas of the settlements of Pylypchatyne, Druzhba and Trypillya. They were not successful.
In the Avdiivka direction, with the support of artillery, the Russians conducted assault operations in the area of Novobakhmutovka, had no success, suffered losses and retreated. In the Kurakhiv direction, the Russians, with the support of rocket artillery and heavy flamethrower systems, launched an offensive in the areas of the settlements of Stepne, Slavne and Marinka, without success. In the Lyman direction, the Russians did not conduct offensive operations, firing on civilian infrastructure in the areas of Ozerne and Lyman.
The Russians did not conduct active hostilities in the South Bug area. Under cover of mortar and barrel artillery fire, they continued the engineering equipment of the positions, and strengthened the grouping of electronic warfare units. The situation in the Bessarabian operational district in the Transnistrian region of the Republic of Moldova has not changed. Russians ship groups in the Black and Azov Seas continue to carry out tasks to isolate combat areas, conduct reconnaissance, support ground operations and block civilian shipping. In the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine, the Russians continued to take measures of the administrative and police regime, violated the rights and freedoms of civilians, prohibited free movement and relocation to the territory controlled by the Government of Ukraine.
The personnel of the Russians are demoralized, the promised payments for participation in hostilities by the command of the Russian occupation forces are not made. Personnel continue to suffer significant losses in battles with the Defense Forces of Ukraine. Cases of desertion of individual units of the occupying forces are recorded.
Over 770 militants of the Azov nationalist unit surrendered at the Azovstal plant in Mariupol over the past day, in total, 1,730 people had already laid down their arms. Igor Konashenkov, official representative of the Russian Defense Ministry, told reporters about this. "Over the past 24 hours, 771 militants of the Azov nationalist unit have surrendered at the blocked Azovstal metallurgical plant in Mariupol. A total of 1,730 militants have surrendered since May 16, including 80 wounded," Konashenkov said. All those in need of inpatient treatment receive assistance in medical institutions in Novoazovsk and Donetsk, he said.
The Red Cross registered hundreds of the soldiers as prisoners of war in a step toward ensuring their humane treatment under the Geneva Conventions. Ukrainian soldiers evacuated from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol are being held in an area controlled by Russian-backed separatists and may be tried for war crimes, Russia said. Video footage released by Russia shows evacuated soldiers being treated in a hospital. "I'm being treated well," one said. "No one is mistreating me, physically or psychologically." It has not been possible to establish if the soldiers were speaking freely.
Rocket troops and artillery of the Russian Ground Forces during a special operation in Ukraine hit about 350 targets of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in a day. This was announced by the official representative of the Russian Defense Ministry, Major General Igor Konashenkov. "Missile troops and artillery hit six command posts, 295 areas of concentration of manpower and military equipment of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, 43 Ukrainian artillery and mortar units in firing positions, and two electronic warfare stations," he said.
Operational-tactical and army aviation of the Russian Federation hit 58 areas of concentration of manpower and Ukrainian military equipment, destroyed more than 340 nationalists, Konashenkov said. "62 units of military equipment have been put out of action," he said. During a special operation, Russian air defense systems destroyed 15 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) of the Ukrainian armed forces, including one Bayraktar TB2, during a special operation, Konashenkov said. He added that 12 Smerch MLRS shells were intercepted in a number of settlements in the Kharkiv and Kherson regions.
The Russian Aerospace Forces hit the S-300 air defense division in the Nikolaev region and the Buk-M1 complex division in the DPR with high-precision missiles, an official representative of the Russian Defense Ministry said. According to him, during the day, seven control points were hit by high-precision air-based missiles of the Russian Aerospace Forces, including the command posts of the 24th motorized infantry brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in Nikolaevka and the 104th brigade of the territorial defense in Konstantinovka.
The US Senate overwhelmingly approved a $40 billion infusion of military and economic aid for Ukraine and its allies as both parties rallied behind America’s latest, and quite possibly not last, financial salvo against Russia’s invasion. The 86-11 vote gave final congressional approval to the package, three weeks after President Joe Biden requested a smaller $33 billion version and after a lone Republican opponent delayed Senate passage for a week. Every Democrat and all but 11 Republicans backed the measure.
Biden’s quick signature was certain as Russia’s attack, which has mauled Ukraine’s forces and cities, slogs into a fourth month with no obvious end ahead. That means more casualties and destruction in Ukraine, which has relied heavily on US and Western assistance for its survival, especially advanced arms, with requests for more aid potentially looming.
The United States is now focusing on training Ukrainian troops in Europe, not on American soil. This was announced by Pentagon spokesman John Kirby at a regular briefing for journalists. He was asked about the possibility of resuming the training of the Ukrainian Armed Forces on American soil. “All the training [for Ukrainian troops] is currently taking place outside of Ukraine, but in Europe. We think that this is, frankly, the best option, because you can take a small number of fighters out of combat, train them, [then] "They will return and train their comrades. Their deployment outside of Ukraine, but in Europe, I think, will allow us to do this much faster. Now we are focusing on this," Kirby emphasized.
The spokesman was again asked if the US is open to resuming this kind of training on its soil. He recalled that a small number of Ukrainian military personnel had already been trained in the use of Switchblade loitering shells in combat in the United States. "It's not that it (training in the US) is banned. We've done it in the past. I can assure you that if at any point we feel this is the best way to enhance their capabilities with the systems [weapons] we provide ], then we will do it. But now, given where we are, where they are fighting, and what is being supplied to them, we still believe that the most effective ways to do this are in the nearby region," the spokesman concluded.
Germany will not put up with the conditions of peace forcibly imposed on Ukraine. This was stated by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, speaking in the Bundestag. "There will be no imposed peace, because the Ukrainians do not accept it, and we do not accept it either," he said.
Germany removed official perks accorded to former chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, assessing that he has failed to uphold the obligations of his office by refusing to sever ties with Russian energy giants. According to media estimates, the former chancellor earns around one million euros from his posts in the Russian energy industry. "The coalition parliamentary groups have drawn consequences from the behaviour of former chancellor and lobbyist Gerhard Schroeder in view of the Russian invasion of Ukraine," the parliament decided. "The office of the former chancellor shall be suspended," it added. Finance Minister Christian Lindner from the FDP told Welt-TV that it was unthinkable that a former chancellor who is now "openly doing lobby work for the criminal rule of Vladimir Putin is still given an office by taxpayers."
The European Parliament urged sanctions against former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder because of his business and political ties to Russia. The EU legislature passed a resolution that said sanctions following the invasion of Ukraine should be extended "to the European members of the boards of major Russian companies and to politicians who continue to receive Russian money." Schröder, who headed the German government from 1998 to 2005, now works for the pipeline company Nord Stream and Russia's Gazprom, and had been under fire for these ties.
French President Emmanuel Macron said he wanted the European Union to give a "quick opinion" on Moldova's request for EU membership as he hosted a meeting with Moldovan President Maia Sandu in Paris. Macron added that a risk that the conflict between Ukraine and Russia could spread to other neighbouring countries could not be ruled out. Fears had grown Moldova could be drawn into the conflict in Ukraine, after pro-Russian separatists in Moldova's Transnistria region blamed Kyiv for what they said were shootings, explosions and cross-border drone incursions.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke to Ukrainian President Zelenskyy to discuss a range of issues, including military support and global food security. The Prime Minister raised his significant concerns about the growing global fallout from Russia’s illegal invasion and President Putin’s craven and reckless blockade of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports, including rising food prices in developing countries. They looked at options to open up critical sea and land supply routes for Ukrainian grain stocks, and committed to direct their teams to work urgently on the next steps.
Dmitry Medvedev, Russia's former president and now a senior security official, said the West should not expect Russia to continue food supplies if it slaps Moscow with devastating sanctions over Ukraine. "Our country is ready to fulfil its obligations in full. But it also expects assistance from trading partners, including on international platforms," Medvedev said on messaging app Telegram. "Otherwise, there's no logic: on the one hand, insane sanctions are being imposed against us, on the other hand, they are demanding food supplies. Things don't work like that, we're not idiots," said Medvedev, Deputy Chairman of Russia's Security Council. "Countries importing our wheat and other food products will have a very difficult time without supplies from Russia. And on European and other fields, without our fertilisers, only juicy weeds will grow," added Medvedev, who served as president between 2008 and 2012.
Attempts to accuse Russia of blocking grain exports from Ukraine in the Black Sea ports are speculation. This is stated in the comments of the official representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova. "Talks about Russia's allegedly blocking the export of Ukrainian grain in the Black Sea ports and the resulting deficit in the grain market are nothing more than speculation. Russia does not interfere with Ukrainian exports, and logistical problems arose solely through the fault of Kyiv itself, whose troops mined their seaports The Russian side constantly opens humanitarian passages in the sea," the diplomat noted. According to Zakharova, Russia continues to supply food as part of its commercial obligations, as well as as humanitarian assistance to the population of countries in need through bilateral and multilateral channels, including through the World Food Programme. "Our country is interested in the stable functioning of the world food market," she stressed.
The diplomat drew attention to the fact that it was the unilateral and illegitimate measures of Western countries that exacerbated the problem of breaking the logistics and financial chains of food supplies to world markets. "Restrictions on trade with Russia - one of the leading suppliers of agricultural products and energy, targeted sanctions against domestic economic operators, banks, transport companies, the closure of ports for our ships and the denial of cargo insurance - all this provoked destabilization and led to an increase in food prices in the world. The ongoing threats of introducing new restrictions provoke and only increase panic and instability," the commentary notes.
The official representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry also rejected accusations by the head of the UN World Food Program David Beasley that Russia was using "hunger as a weapon." "Such statements are inappropriate and inconsistent with the principles of impartiality and neutrality, which Beasley, as an international official, must strictly observe," Zakharova added.
According to the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, since the beginning of the special military operation, 172 aircraft, 125 helicopters, 942 unmanned aerial vehicles, 313 anti-aircraft missile systems, 3,158 tanks and other armored combat vehicles, 395 multiple rocket launchers, 1,562 field artillery pieces have been destroyed since the beginning of the special military operation. and mortars, as well as 3,026 units of special military vehicles.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|