Russo-Ukraine War - 23 May 2022 - Day 89
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-ninth day of the heroic opposition of the Ukrainian people to the Russian military invasion continues. The UK Ministry of Defence reported that in the first three months of its ‘special military operation’, Russia has likely suffered a similar death toll to that experienced by the Soviet Union during its nine year war in Afghanistan. A combination of poor low-level tactics, limited air cover, a lack of flexibility, and a command approach which is prepared to reinforce failure and repeat mistakes has led to this high casualty rate, which continues to rise in the Donbas offensive. The Russian public has, in the past, proven sensitive to casualties suffered during wars of choice. As casualties suffered in Ukraine continue to rise they will become more apparent, and public dissatisfaction with the war and a willingness to voice it may grow.
Ukraine ruled out a ceasefire or any territorial concessions to Moscow as Russia stepped up its attack in the east and south of the country, pounding the Donbas and Mykolaiv regions with air strikes and artillery fire. Kyiv’s stance had become increasingly uncompromising in recent weeks as Russia experienced military setbacks while Ukrainian officials worried they might be pressured to sacrifice land for a peace deal. “The war must end with the complete restoration of Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty,” Andriy Yermak, Ukraine’s presidential chief of staff said.
In the Volyn and Polissya directions, certain units of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus perform tasks to cover the Ukrainian-Belarusian border. The threat of missile and bomb strikes from the territory of the Republic of Belarus remains. In the northern direction, the Russians continue to take measures to strengthen the Ukrainian-Russian border in the Bryansk and Kursk regions. The Russian occupiers do not stop shelling the positions of the Defense Forces, which are deployed in the immediate vicinity of the state border of Ukraine in Sumy and Chernihiv regions. In the Slobozhansky direction, the invaders are trying to keep the occupied borders. Ukrainian troops are being fired on in order to prevent their further advance towards the state border. They are trying to improve the tactical position of their units. With the support of artillery, the Russians resumed assault in the area of the settlement of Ternov, had no success.
In the Slavic direction, the main efforts of the Russians focused on maintaining the occupied positions, conducting reconnaissance and creating conditions for the resumption of the offensive. He launched an air strike near the settlement of Bogorodichne and fired artillery at the settlements of Husarivka, Chepil, Dolyna and Sviatohirsk. The Russians used rocket-propelled grenade launchers and heavy flamethrower systems in the area of the Studenok settlement.
In the Donetsk direction, Russians units did not stop trying to break through the defenses of Ukrainian troops in order to surround them and reach the administrative borders of Luhansk region. The main efforts are focused on the Bakhmut direction. No active hostilities have been reported in the Lyman direction. The Russians carried out artillery shelling of units of the Defense Forces and civilian objects in the village of Lyman.
In the Severodonetsk direction, with the support of artillery, the Russians conducted assault operations, had no success, suffered losses and retreated. Russian forces continued ground assaults around the major Luhansk city of Severodonetsk on Sunday but made only minimal gains in the east of the country as it seeks to capture the last Luhansk stronghold, the Institute for the Study of War said.
The Institute noted that Russia had been unsuccessful at encircling Severodonetsk from the east to support its previous advances towards the city from the north (via Rubizhne), west (via Bilohorivka), and south (via Popasna). But it added that there had been confirmed reports Russia seemed to have broken through Ukrainian defences around Popasna. “Russian forces likely seek to open a new line of advance north from Popasna to complete the encirclement of Severodonetsk while simultaneously driving west toward Bakhmut, though Russian forces are unlikely to be able to fully resource both lines of advance simultaneously,” the institute said.
In the Bakhmut direction, the Russians tried to launch an offensive, but were unsuccessful. In the direction of Luhansk he conducted reconnaissance by battle, had no success, and withdrew. In the South Bug area, the occupiers continued to shell the positions of Ukrainian troops in order to restrain their actions. Engineering equipment of defensive lines in the area of the settlement Posad-Pokrovsky proceeded.
Measures of the administrative-police regime in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine continue. According to available information, in the temporarily occupied territories of Kherson and Zaporizhia oblasts, the occupiers created nineteen so-called "commandant's offices."
In the Black Sea and Azov operational zones, Russians naval groups continue to carry out tasks to isolate areas of hostilities and missile strikes on infrastructure facilities in Ukraine. According to available information, in order to increase the air defense system, the Russians are deploying two additional S-400 anti-aircraft missile divisions in the north-western part of the temporarily occupied Autonomous Republic of Crimea.
The moral and psychological condition of the occupiers remains low, there is a systematic use of alcoholic beverages and desertion. The personnel of the enemy's units complain about the ineffectiveness of their attacks on the positions of the Defense Forces of Ukraine.
The Armed Forces of the Russian Federation destroyed the weapons of the 10th mountain assault brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, which were transferred to the Donbass, said the official representative of the Russian Defense Ministry, Igor Konashenkov. According to him, during a special operation in Ukraine, the missile troops and artillery of the Ground Forces hit more than 680 targets of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in a day.
The Russian Armed Forces hit 48 areas of concentration of manpower and military equipment and six ammunition depots in the LPR with high-precision missiles, Konashenkov said. The Russian Armed Forces hit four command posts and a communication center of the Sever operational-tactical group in the DPR with high-precision air-launched missiles, he said. The Armed Forces of the Russian Federation destroyed the weapons and military equipment of the 10th mountain assault brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the Zhytomyr region, transferred to the Donbass, Konashenkov said.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has said that some 20 countries had announced new security assistance packages for Ukraine during a virtual meeting with allies aimed at coordinating arms for Kyiv. Those who announced new packages included Italy, Denmark, Greece, Norway and Poland, Austin told reporters.
The Danish authorities will hand over Harpoon anti-ship missiles and launchers to Ukraine. This was stated by Austin following the second online meeting of the contact group created by Western countries to provide military assistance to Kyiv. Austin declined to say whether Washington could provide Kyiv with highly mobile multiple launch rocket systems as part of its military assistance.
The Czech Republic donated attack helicopters to Ukraine, and along with Slovakia, has allowed Ukraine’s military to send dozens of armored vehicles across their borders for repairs before they are returned to the conflict. The helicopters — Soviet-designed Mi-24 gunships — were deployed to Ukraine in recent weeks, part of a broader effort to help the country reclaim its airspace.
Germany, as part of the so-called circular exchange, will supply the Czech Republic with 15 Leopard 2 A4 tanks in order to provide military assistance to Ukraine. This was announced by the German Ministry of Defense. "We continue to support Ukraine - now a circular exchange with the Czech Republic. Germany will provide 15 Leopard 2 A4 tanks," the message says. At the same time, it is indicated that the Bundeswehr (German Armed Forces) also takes over the training of the Czech military. "The circular exchange with the Czech Republic is another very good example of how we can quickly and easily help Ukraine," German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said.
Thus, the Czech Republic will receive 15 Leopard 2 A4 tanks from Germany in exchange for the supply of Soviet-made tanks to Ukraine. "In the future, we will cooperate even more closely with our Czech allies in the field of armaments, as well as in the field of structural cooperation between our armed forces," Lambrecht said. In turn, the Minister of Defense of the Czech Republic, Yana Chernokhova, according to the German newspaper Die Welt, stressed that it is soon planned to begin negotiations on 50 more modern Leopard 2A7+ tanks for the coming years. "Germany has long been our most important economic partner," the German edition quoted her as saying.
According to the Czech media, the average cost of the latest German Leopard 2A7+ tanks for the Czech Republic will be about €10 million per combat unit. In the future, it is possible to start their production at the defense plants of the republic. Prague would also like to receive armored personnel carriers and rocket launchers from the FRG.
A Ukrainian court sentenced Russian soldier Vadim Shishimarin to life in prison for killing an unarmed civilian in the first war crimes trial arising from Russia’s invasion. Shishimarin, a 21-year-old tank commander, pleaded guilty last week to killing the 62-year-old man in the northeastern Ukrainian village of Chupakhivka on February 28 after being ordered to shoot at him from a car.
Deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation Andrey Rudenko called it right to organize an international tribunal to investigate the crimes of the Nazis in Ukraine. The document, which will determine how the tribunal will take place over Ukrainian nationalists who left the Mariupol Azovstal plant, may appear within a month, said Viktor Vodolatsky, First Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Committee on CIS Affairs, Eurasian Integration and Relations with Compatriots. “I think that within a month we will see a specific document so that everyone who mocked the Russian world <…> [shall] be punished for their crimes. <…> The people of Donbass, who suffer from these nonhumans," the deputy said.
A Ukrainian court has ordered the arrest in absentia of former President Viktor Yanukovich, accusing him of treason over an agreement he signed in 2010 extending Russia’s lease on naval facilities in Crimea. The agreement, widely known in Ukraine as the Kharkiv Pact, allowed Russia to keep its Black Sea Fleet in the Crimean port of Sevastopol. Yanukovich, who fled to Russia in 2014 after mass protests, has already received a 13-year jail sentence in absentia for treason. That case was related to a letter he sent to Russian President Vladimir Putin on March 1, 2014, asking him to use Russian army and police forces to restore order in Ukraine.
Ukraine’s prosecutor general says the country’s authorities are investigating about 13,000 cases of alleged war crimes carried out by Russian forces. “As of this day, we have more than 13,000 cases [being probed] only about war crimes,” Iryna Venediktova told US newspaper The Washington Post. Russia has repeatedly denied targeting civilians and accusations its forces have carried out war crimes during what it calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine.
Democratic and Republican US Senate leaders introduced a resolution backing Sweden and Finland’s bids to join NATO, underscoring support for expanding the alliance despite growing nationalism in the Republican party. It will take a two-thirds majority in the 100-member Senate to approve the expansion of the alliance, requiring “yes” votes from at least 17 Republicans along with every Democrat. Many US Republicans have been following the lead of former President Donald Trump – the party’s leader – toward a more nationalist foreign policy. Trump accused NATO allies of not spending enough on their own defence and excessively burdening the United States.
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees reported that from February 24 to May 22, the number of people who left Ukraine reached 6,538,998, over the past two days, 94,989 refugees crossed the borders of neighboring states. According to information posted on its website, 919,934 people have arrived in Russia since February 24, 3,505,890 in Poland, 943,015 in Romania, and 644,474 in Hungary.
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