Stochastic Strikes in Kharkiv Province, Ukraine During the September 9 Reaction of Russian Defense Forces on Ukrainian Airborne Fireballs
STAVKY, Ukraine — Racing down a road with his men in pursuit of retreating Russian soldiers, a battalion commander came across an abandoned Russian armored vehicle, its engine still running. There was a rifle, grenade and helmet inside. The men were gone.
“They dropped everything: personal care, helmets,” said the commander, who uses the code name Swat. They were panicked but I think it was a special unit. It was raining very hard and the road was bad.
After months of static fighting and holding the line under withering Russian missiles, Ukrainian soldiers are happy to be back to normal, as evidenced by the success of the smashing of Russian lines in the northeast three weeks ago. They have almost retaken the whole of Kharkiv Province, as well as territory in each of the four regions that President Vladimir V. Putin claims to have annexed for Russia.
Russia is trying to halt recent Ukrainian advances while also rebuilding the ground forces decimated during the war. After a chaotic mobilization in September, military analysts had predicted the deployment of Russian men to front line areas through the fall, with high numbers of casualties expected. In the east, Russians are attacking, while in the south they are defending.
Grisly videos filmed by Ukrainian drones showing Russian infantry being struck by artillery in poorly prepared positions have partly supported those assertions, as has reporting in Russian news media of mobilized soldiers telling relatives about high casualty rates. The exact location of the front line could not be determined, as the videos have not been independently verified.
Russian forces are in the process of staging up to 80 assaults a day, General Zaluzhnyi said in the statement, which described a telephone conversation with an American general.
“We discussed the situation at the front,” General Zaluzhnyi wrote. He said he told his U.S colleague that the Ukrainian forces were fighting back, thanks to their courage and skills.
According to an assessment from the Institute for the Study of War, an analytical group in Washington, the increase in infantry in the east did not result in Russia gaining new ground.
Russian units have been trying to push an offensive towards the city of Bakhmut in Donetsk for months but have suffered heavy losses as Ukrainian forces targeted them in what is largely rural territory.
Earlier, Russia claimed that more than 600 Ukrainian soldiers were killed in a Russian strike in Kramatorsk carried out in “retaliation” over the Ukrainian attack on Russian-occupied Makiivka last week, according to a statement from the Russian Defense Ministry.
Anticipation is mounting for a possible battle for Kherson, a Russian-occupied city in southern Ukraine. Kremlin-installed officials have been evacuating civilians in preparation for a potential Ukrainian counteroffensive.
And Ukraine will be watching America’s midterm election results this week, especially after some Republicans warned that the party could limit funding for Ukraine if it wins control of the House of Representatives, as forecast.
State of Ukraine: A week of frustration for Kiev after the U.N. air strike attacks on Ukraine in the December 11, 2011 Ukrainian Emergency Services Meeting
Also Tuesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will host Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson. Erdogan insists Sweden must meet certain conditions before it can join NATO.
On Wednesday, the UN General Assembly is going to discuss a report on the international Atomic Energy Agency.
More than 4 million Ukrainians were without electricity because of attacks on their infrastructure, and the president accused Russia of energy terrorism.
Russia rejoined the U.N.-brokered deal to export agricultural goods from Ukraine on Nov. 2. Moscow had suspended its part in the deal a few days prior after saying Ukraine had launched a drone attack on its Black Sea ships.
An additional $400 million was announced by the Pentagon to be spent on security aid to Ukraine.
Iran acknowledged for the first time that it provided some drones to Russia, but denied continuing to supply them. Zelenskyy accused Iran of lying because Ukrainian forces shoot down a lot of Iranian drones.
You can read past recaps here. For context and more in-depth stories, you can find more of NPR’s coverage here. Also, listen and subscribe to NPR’s State of Ukraine podcast for updates throughout the day.
Russia has since unleashed a wave of air strikes on civilian infrastructure in an attempt to freeze Ukraine into submission during the winter months. The bombing campaign has made life in Ukraine miserable, but there are few signs of Ukrainians backing down.
The leader of the disaster response in the Ukrainian president’s office said a number of buildings in the capital have been destroyed.
There was a blast near the playground that rattled the windows. In case of a shortages, the mayor urged residents to charge their electronic devices and fill water containers.
Ukrainian air defense systems shot down 21 cruise missiles near Odesa, said Maksym Marchenko, the regional administrator for that region along the Black Sea. The city did not have water or electricity after successful missile strikes.
The city lost power near the Polish border, according to the mayor. Diesel generators were used to power emergency services. Public transportation stopped working there.
Since October 10, strikes of the scale like Thursday’s have become less frequent. The head of Ukraine’s military intelligence said that Russia is running short of cruise missiles.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Russian reporters Wednesday that Moscow would continue to pursue its objectives inUkraine with persistence and patience.
The Cold War in Ukraine: State Media Propaganda, the Internet, and the Russian-Prussian Internet of Phenomenology
The Russian Defense Ministry claims that a wave of missile attacks againstUkraine on Thursdayneutralized all their assigned targets.
Both Ukrainian and Russian forces have suffered losses in the city. CNN was unable to confirm Russia’s claims.
The ministry did not claim any territorial gains against the Ukrainians despite the fact that the two sides are in a stalemate.
Putin spoke of a “special military operation” and said it would be over in a few weeks.
The war in Ukraine entered 2023 with its deadliest attack yet on Russian troops – and an attempt by Moscow to shift the bulk of blame onto its own dead soldiers.
The war fundamentally upended Russian life, and disrupted the post-Soviet period in which the country pursued reforms and dialogue with the West.
Draconian laws passed since February have outlawed criticism of the military or leadership. The leading independent monitoring group says over 20,000 people have been held for demonstrating against the war and 45% of them are women.
Lengthy prison sentences have been meted out to high profile opposition voices on charges of “discrediting” the Russian army by questioning its conduct or strategy.
There is a growing list of “foreign agents” and “non-desirable” organizations intended to damage the reputation of the Russian public.
The Lech Walesa Memorial, Russia’s most revered human rights group, was forced to stop its activities over alleged violations of the foreign agents law.
The state has also vastly expanded Russia’s already restrictive anti-LGBT laws, arguing the war in Ukraine reflects a wider attack on “traditional values.”
For now, they are still targeted. Some of the laws that were written are not enforced. Should the moment arise, most doubt the measures are intended to crush wider dissent.
When there were “fake news” laws that criminalized it against the government, leading independent media outlets were forced to shut down or relocate abroad.
The internet users have restrictions as well. American social media giants such as Twitter and Facebook were banned in March. Roskomnadzor, the Kremlin’s internet regulator, has blocked more than 100,000 websites since the start of the conflict.
Russians still have access to independent sources of information via technical workarounds. But state media propaganda now blankets the airwaves favored by older Russians, with angry TV talk shows spreading conspiracies.
The Russian Exodus: Where Are We Going? What Do We Need to Know Now that Europe Can Rejoin Russia? How Did Russia End the Cold Cold War?
Many of the perceived government opponents left in the early days of the war due to concerns of persecution.
Hundreds of thousands of Russians fled to border states to avoid the draft as a result of Putin’s order to mobilize 300,000 additional troops.
Putin believed it was a good way to rid Russian society of traitors and spies. Russian officials have suggested stripping those who left the country of their passports. Many questions exist if Russia can thrive without some of its best and brightest.
The swelling presence of Russians remains a sensitive issue for some former Soviet republics, which is why some countries that have accepted the Russian exodus predict their economies will grow.
Helped by Russian price controls, the ruble regained value. McDonald’s and many other brands were re-launched under new names after being owned by Russians. The economy had declined 2.5% by the year’s end, well less than most economists had predicted.
The West is trying to curb Russian energy profits by capping the amount of countries that will pay for Russian oil. There are signs the efforts are already cutting into profits.
Ultimately, President Putin is betting that when it comes to sanctions, Europe will blink first — pulling back on its support to Ukraine as Europeans grow angry over soaring energy costs at home. He announced a five-month ban on oil exports to countries that abide by the price cap, a move likely to make the pain more acute in Europe.
The economic damage has already put an end to Putin’s two-decades strong reputation for providing “stability” — once a key basis for his support among Russians who remember the chaotic years that followed the collapse of the USSR.
There’s no change in the government’s tone when it comes to Russia’s military campaign. daily briefings from Russia’s Defense Ministry recount endless successes. Putin insists that everything is going according to plan.
The length of the war suggests thatRussia underestimated Ukrainians’ willingness to resist.
Russia’s illegal annexation of four territories of Ukraine following unrecognized referendums in September has only underscored Moscow’s problems: it hasn’t been able to establish full control over the lands it now claims as its own.
At home, the true number of Russian losses is a topic that remains extremely taboo. Western estimates place those figures much higher.
Russia’s ability to defend it’s strategic infrastructure has been put into question by a series of explosions along a key bridge.
Indeed, Russia’s invasion has — thus far — backfired in its primary aims: NATO looks set to expand towards Russia’s borders, with the addition of long-neutral states Finland and Sweden.
Longtime allies in Central Asia have criticized Russia’s actions out of concern for their own sovereignty, an affront that would have been unthinkable in Soviet times. India and China have purchased discounted Russian oil, but have so far refrained from fully supporting Russia’s military campaign.
The Russian War Between the Cold Cold and the Cold: The January 9, 2019 State of the Nation Address in Makiivka, Ukraine (Survivor of the Decay of a Military Strike)
The state of the nation address was originally supposed to take place in April, but has been delayed multiple times. The yearly “direct line”, a media event in which Putin fields questions from ordinary Russians, was canceled completely.
The annual December “big press conference,” which allows Russian leader to handle questions from mostly pro-Kremlin media was tabled until November 23, 2023.
The Kremlin did not give a reason for the delays. Many suspect it might be that, after 10 months of war and no sign of victory in sight, the Russian leader has finally run out of good news to share.
At least 89 Russian soldiers were killed – a rare Russian admission of a high death toll. The Ukrainian military reported even higher figures, initially claiming up to around 400 Russian soldiers were killed. CNN can’t independently verify the death toll. In either case, the strike marked one of the deadliest episodes of the conflict for Moscow’s forces.
The strike happened just after midnight on New Year’s Day on a school for Russian conscripts in the eastern region of the country, according to both Ukrainian and Russian accounts.
The attack has led to criticism from military experts in Moscow, who claim the troops were not protected and were near a large weapons cache, which is said to have exploded when the school was hit.
The Russian defense ministry claimed that 63 Russian soldiers died during the attack, making it one of the most violent episodes of the war for Moscow.
Grigory Karasin said that people responsible for the killing of Russian servicemen in Makiivka must be found.
War and the destruction of the occupied Maivka facility in Ukraine: A comment on a Russian propagandist who blogs about the war effort on Telegram
A video that was from the scene of the attack was widely shared on Telegram. it shows a pile of rubble in a building that is almost completely destroyed
The Strategic Communications Directorate of the ChiefCommander-in-Chief of the armed forces of Ukraine posted on Telegram greeting and wishing the people who were brought to the occupied Maivka and crammed into the school. “Santa packed around 400 corpses of [Russian soldiers] in bags.”
Daniil Bezsonov, a former official in the Russia-backed Donetsk administration, said on Telegram that “apparently, the high command is still unaware of the capabilities of this weapon.”
Bezsonov said he hoped those responsible for using the facility would be reprimanded. “There are enough abandoned facilities in Donbas with sturdy buildings and basements where personnel can be quartered.”
A Russian propagandist who blogs about the war effort on Telegram, Igor Girkin, claimed that the building was almost completely destroyed by the secondary detonation of ammunition stores.
“Nearly all the military equipment, which stood close to the building without the slightest sign of camouflage, was also destroyed,” Girkin said. “There are still no final figures on the number of casualties, as many people are still missing.”
Russian generals who Girkin claims direct the war effort far from the frontline are “unlearned in principle” and unwilling to listen to warnings about putting equipment and personnel so close together. The Dutch court of mass murder found him guilty of killing people in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine, and he was sentenced to life in prison.
Boris Rozhin, who also blogs about the war effort under the nickname Colonelcassad, said that “incompetence and an inability to grasp the experience of war continue to be a serious problem.”
“As you can see, despite several months of war, some conclusions are not made, hence the unnecessary losses, which, if the elementary precautions relating to the dispersal and concealment of personnel were taken, might have not happened.”
The Russian Army and the Makiivka Crisis: A Red Line in the Sand: Diplomacy, Strategy, and the History of Wars That Might Still Happen
Russian forces lost 760 people yesterday and are trying to destroy Bakhmut, the general staff of the military said Sunday.
The author of A Red Line in the Sand: Diplomacy, Strategy, and the History of Wars That Might Still Happen is David A. Andelman, a contributor to CNN and twice winner of the Deadline Club Award. Previously he was a correspondent for CBS News in Europe and Asia. The views he gives in this commentary are his own. View more opinion at CNN.
If the Russian account is accurate, it was the cell phones that the novice troops were using in violation of regulations that allowed Ukrainian forces to target them most accurately. Ukraine, however, has not indicated how the attack was executed. The implications are broader and deeper for how Russia is conducting its war now.
President Putin called for a temporary truce after the deadliest attacks on Russian servicemen. It was a cynical attempt by Russia to get some breathing space as it is currently having a very bad year.
The satellite-guided HIMARS — short for High Mobility Artillery Rocket System — currently have a range of 80 kilometers. A longer-range 300-kilometer HIMARS has not yet been authorized, despite repeated Ukrainian pleas. (The Biden administration has worried that the longer-range system could expand the war beyond Ukraine’s frontiers and lead to an escalation of hostilities.)
Chris Dougherty, a senior fellow for the Defense Program and co-head of the Gaming Lab at the Center for New American Security in Washington, has told me that Russia’s failure to break up or move large arms depots is largely a function of the reality that their forces cannot communicate adequately.
It’s a view shared by other experts. James Lewis, the director of the strategic technologies program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told me in an e-mail exchange that bad security communications are a standard practice in the Russian Army.
Compounding the problem, Britain’s Ministry of Defense said after the recent Makiivka strikes that “the Russian military has a record of unsafe ammunition storage from well before the current war, but this incident highlights how unprofessional practices contribute to Russia’s high casualty rate.”
He’s not the only Russian war blogger casting doubt. The post on Grey Zone said the blame of the incident in Makiivka went to the soldiers themselves, linked to a long-time Kremlin ally. It is 99% a lie and an effort to throw off the blame.
The prisoners from Russian prisons who were freed have been sent to the Ukrainian front. If prisoners were to be allowed to use cell phones, it could appeal to them that the phone would allow them to get in contact with the outside world.
The recipient of the Order of Courage by President Putin at the Kremlin attacked the Ministry of Defense, saying that it tried to make a case about the troops use of cell phones.
He wondered how the Ministry of Defense could be so certain about the location of soldiers in the school building that they wouldn’t have used drones to find them.
The attack of Makiivka: How long will Putin be protected from blame in the wake of Russia? The story of a Russian commander in Kramatorsk
How long will Putin be protected from blame in the wake of Makiivka? There is no indication that Ukrainian forces have any intention of lessening the pressure on Russian forces in the east or south of their country as the war enters a new calendar year.
An officer known to Western officials as the “butcher of Mariupol” was named deputy defense minister for overseeinglogistics, replacing a four star general. The arms depot was close to the recruits and would have been on the watch of Mizintsev.
Sergei Shoigu, the defense minister, told his forces in a celebration video that their victory is inevitable.
And there seems to be little suggestion that the West will be letting up on its support for Ukraine. Both the US and Europe, which recently pledged to raise their financing by $2 billion in 2023, seem determined to see Ukraine through this winter.
Ukrainian officials had repeatedly pleaded with their Western allies to provide modern battle tanks that could be used not only to defend their present positions but to take the fight to the enemy.
A CNN team on the ground has seen no indication of any massive casualties in the area. There is no unusual activity in and around Kramatorsk, including in the vicinity of the city morgue, the team reported.
There were no signs of a major Russian strike on two college dormitories that Russia claimed had been housing hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers, reported by a reporter in Kramtorsk.
The Russian government and some pro-Kremlin leaders and military experts had a rare public blame game after Moscow appeared to blame its own soldiers for using cell phones.
But the account of the attack was dismissed by the military author and the leader in eastern Ukraine pointed to the divide in the Russian command over the response to the attack.
Conventional wisdom said that tanks had seen the best of their days when they were outflanked, vulnerable to drones and fire-and-forget missiles.
“What Russia is trying to do now is regroup,” former Ukraine defense minister Andrii Zahorodniuk told me in a telephone interview from Kyiv, shortly after Germany’s tank announcement.
Zahorodniuk, who served as a minister and is now co-founder of the security think tank Centre for Defense Strategies, said they are taking their time and calling another mobilization.
The world watched in wonder – and with a strong dose of schadenfreude – as Russia’s intended blitzkrieg dash for Kyiv in the first days of the war last February dissolved in disaster.
Satellite imagery suggested an assault on the Ukrainian capital was on the way, but then it stopped.
Why? It ran out of gas first. The US defense officials said that flawed supply systems left columns running out of fuel and food.
There was the mud after that. Russian tanks were damaged when they gotbogged down by the mud during the “rasputitsa”, a time between the winter and the spring when snow turns to mud.
The Russians are not expected to have learned their lesson even after almost a year. “It would be unwise for them to start their attacks in late winter or early spring,” said Zahorodniuk. It is advisable that they wait until the end of the spring when weather is much better.
I first stumbled across a Soviet tank driver in Moscow back in the ’80s when NATO was still preparing for an invasion by the Soviet Union, and it was barely a mile from the Fulda Gap.
This driver laughed at any such prospect. He told me Soviet tank drivers would be issued sledgehammers to pound their transmissions into submission when the gears all too frequently jammed.
The Russian Army in the Cold War II: Armatas in the War Room and at the Front of the Particle Armoured Tanks
Most Russian tanks carry their guns’ ammunition right next to the crews that pilot the tanks, load and fire the guns – up to 40 high-explosive charges. The tanks are armored for their front, but not so much on their sides and turret.
A direct hit by an American-made Javelin or British-Swedish NLAW anti-tank missile is enough to kill the crew of a tank and destroy its armor.
Western tanks – both America’s M-1 Abrams and Germany’s Leopard 2 – have their crews carefully isolated from the ammunition behind blast-proof barriers.
The Russians also have a new tank – the T-14 Armata – that is every bit a match for the M-1 Abrams or the Leopard 2. The problem is they have produced only a handful of Armatas. Three were in the last May Day parade in Red Square, after the first ones did not go as planned.
How you use them, what kind of operation you have, and how effective you are are all aspects of how you use them. “And as 2022 has shown, Ukraine is more effective, so we can do better with less equipment.” Most people wouldn’t want to take a gamble.
There is a good chance that Russia lost at least half of its tanks in the war.
The ministry of defense estimates that the Ukranian need 300 modern battle tanks to supplement their own equipment, according to Zahorodniuk.
But it seems unlikely that even a fraction of that number have been pledged by all western allies for some still uncertain future date. So far, the tally is 31 M-1 Abrams from the US, 14 Leopard 2s from Germany, 14 British Challenger 2s. There are more promised by Poland, Portugal, Norway, Spain, and the Netherlands.
France will only be sending its light AMX-10 RC armored combat vehicles, not its main Leclerc battle tank, though President Emmanuel Macron has not ruled this out.
Russian Intervention in Ukraine’s Violation of the Articles of Intifadillation and Implications for Russophobia
But with at least three months needed to train tank commanders, gunners, drivers, technicians, and mechanics on these complex machines, time is of the essence.
Ukrainian troops will begin training in the United Kingdom to use the country’s Challenger 2, following the British government’s pledge to send a squadron of the tanks to Ukraine.
The World Economic Outlook is due to be released on Tuesday morning in Singapore. Some countries are suffering from a recession because of the war between Russia and Ukraine, according to the International Monetary Fund.
EU leaders plan to meet with the Ukrainian president the following day after a visit by a group of European Commission leaders.
Ukraine’s military acknowledged the Russian takeover of Soledar, retreating from the eastern town after a tough battle. Russian forces continued to take control over parts of eastern Ukraine.
New U.S. Ambassador to Russia Lynne Tracy arrived in Moscow, at a time of strong tensions between the two governments over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. On Monday, Tracy was reportedly heckled by protesters as she entered the Russian Foreign Ministry to present her credentials.
The ambassadors of Russia to the Baltic states were told to leave by the Kremlin, which said it had downsized its relations with the states over what it said was “Russophobia”.
A U.S. Air Defense Minister in Ukraine: Training and Supporting a Combat Fighter-Jets-F16s? Revised Russian Prime Minister Sergei Petrov
“My understanding is that we are able to offer training courses in Europe,” he said. It is more convenient because we have a similar landscape and same weather conditions.
He tells NPR he’s hoping for fast-track training, which he says is what’s planned for the Patriot air defense missiles the U.S. promised President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in December. The US started training Ukrainians in Oklahoma.
“For the Leopard tanks, for example, [training] normally could be half a year. But I hope that we will do it during one month or probably two months,” he says adds.
He is pretty sure that the F-16s are realistic, as have other weapons that first seem to be out of reach.
President Biden said on Monday that the U.S. wouldn’t send F-16s to Ukraine, and the Chancellor of Germany said the question of combat aircraft does not arise at all.
Reznikov says he knows Western allies are scrutinizing Ukraine’s government closely. Ukrainian journalists recently reported that Reznikov’s own ministry was sometimes purchasing food and other supplies for troops at inflated prices.
Russia accused the West of sending sophisticated weapons to Ukraine in order to direct the war. Tension has arisen between NATO and the European Union. Croatia’s President Zoran Milanovic told reporters that supplying arms to Kyiv will only prolong the war and that it’s “mad” to expect Russia’s defeat. And Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban said Ukraine’s Western backers had “drifted into war.”
Defense expenditures: Why a new Ukraine is needed, why NATO is needed and why we need a European standard not a Soviet one?
The defense ministry used to make most expenses public. Now most are classified for security reasons. He wants to make defense expenditures more transparent, because transparency is a delicate issue during wartime.
He says he will do it, but it’s not a piece of cake. “Because my principle is zero tolerance with corruption. We need a new Ukraine with a European standard not an old-fashioned Soviet one.
Since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Oryx has been collecting visual evidence of military equipment losses.
In addition, the toll does not include losses Oryx has not been able to confirm, said Janovsky, a military analyst. He estimated the actual toll could be nearer 2,000 tanks.
Analysts noticed that the Russian tanks had a design flaw that allowed a single incoming anti-tank round to explode their ammunition stores right before the war began. A jack in the box effect is when a blast blows off the turrets of the Russian tanks.
The consequences of future sanctions on U.S. industrial sensors and electronics: a comment on Green’s Law in Defense of the Affordable Energy Pacifis
“Due to sanctions they might have to replace sensors and electronics with inferior alternatives – and the amount they can produce in the near term is a fraction of what they are losing. Those material losses … are not sustainable,” he said in September.