War Update #25 – Protests Grow – Russia Seizing Foreign Owned Assets – Cease Fire Talks Continue – Russia Running out of Food for Soldiers

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Covering the War in Ukraine
Covering the War in Ukraine

“Soldiers win battles, logistics win wars” – General John J. Pershing, commander of the American Expeditionary Forces on the Western Front during World War Ones

Increasingly it appears that Russian President Putin has completely underestimated his battle against Ukraine.

Putin’s military has been losing the battle on the logistical front for twenty days. Reports of Russian military vehicles running out of fuel, soldiers scavenging for food are making the rounds for weeks now.

As well it appears what President Putin expected to happen was a weekend walkover into Ukraine, that would have been a fast blitzkrieg victory before any economic sanctions could be enacted was not in the plans.

Now the Russian President faces increasing isolation globally, is seeing the Ukraine standing up fighting hard, and watching the protests, in spite of serious penalties for Russians who stand against his war continue to grow.

Even if President Putin wins the battles in Ukraine, it now appears he has already lost the war on the economic, digital, and propaganda fronts.

The Pentagon Reports…

Russian forces are increasing long-range fires on Mariupol, Kyiv, Kharkiv, Chernihiv and other population centers in Ukraine, a senior Defense Department official said at the Pentagon today.

Since the start of the war, the Russians have launched more than 900 missiles of various types and sizes, the official said.

“What we’re seeing on the ground is a continued military effort to subdue these population centers and to do it now with ever more violence using more and more long-range fires, which are increasingly indiscriminate in terms of what they’re hitting,” the official said.

Despite the bombings, major Ukrainian cities continue to be bravely defended, the official said, mentioning Mykolaiv and the town of Brovary, which is a short distance to the east of Kyiv.

Over the last several days, there has not been a lot of progress by Russian forces, the official said. “Almost all of Russia’s advances remain stalled.”

War Diary

Deadly explosion in Donetsk: A rocket exploded in central Donetsk killing twenty people and injuring another twenty-eight, according to Russia’s Defense Ministry, which identified the weapon as an OTR-21 Tochka tactical ballistic missile, allegedly fired from territory under the Ukrainian state’s control. Officials in Kyiv, however, say, “This was definitely a Russian missile or some other ammunition.”

Trouble leaving Mariupol: Roughly 150 vehicles carrying civilians departed Mariupol on Monday. BBC Russia reported that this was the first time since the city’s encirclement that residents managed to use humanitarian corridors to escape. Mariupol’s mayor later reported, however, that the evacuees got no farther than the Russian-occupied city of Berdiansk (about eighty kilometres southwest).

The European Union approved a fourth package of “restrictive measures” against Russia in response to Russia’s attacks against schools, apartment buildings, and hospitals in Ukraine. Reuters reported that EU states will also adopt new sanctions against the oil majors Rosneft, Transneft, and Gazprom Neft, but European purchases of Russian oil will continue.

Legislation coming from the Russia’s ruling political party would make it a felony to enforce Western sanctions inside Russia. The law would penalize Russian companies that refuse to work with sanctioned banks and other businesses under the pretext that they would risk becoming sanctioned themselves. “Obeying foreign sanctions within [Russia] constitutes indirect support [of the sanctions]. There’s no other word for this but betrayal,” stated Andrey Turchak, a senior member of United Russia.

Following Russia’s decision to block Meta services like Facebook and Instagram, the Russian social network Vkontakte reported its highest ever daily traffic, with a record 50 million users visiting the website in a single day. Headquartered in Russia, Vkontakte operates in compliance with Russian Internet controls and has already blocked the pages of several independent news outlets. On Monday, Russia’s federal censor blocked the popular news and memes website TJournal.

  • Russian Presidential Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov claimed that at the beginning of the war in Ukraine, Vladimir Putin “Instructed the Defense Ministry to refrain from immediately storming large cities, including Kyiv.” According to Peskov, this was because “Armed nationalist formations were setting up firing points and placing heavy military equipment right in residential areas.” Now, however, “the Defense Ministry, while maintaining maximum security for the civilian population, is not ruling out the possibility of taking full control of large population centers, which already are practically completely surrounded, with the exception of humanitarian evacuation zones.”
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law allowing foreign planes leased to Russia-based airlines to be registered as the airlines’ property. The law also allows Russian airworthiness certificates to be issued to foreign aircraft. Russia’s need for this law arose after the EU banned leasing aircraft to Russian airlines; European planes that were leased to Russian companies were arrested abroad, leading to the almost complete cessation of flights from Russian Airlines outside of Russia’s borders. However, almost half of commercial planes leased to Russia were registered in Bermuda. Since March 13, when the Bermuda authorities suspended these planes’ airworthiness certificates, the companies have been flying them illegally.
  • Death toll continues to climb: According to Ukraine authorities, more than 2,500 people have died in Mariupol, which has been under siege by the Russian army for over two weeks. Oleksiy Arestovych, a Ukrainian presidential spokesperson states, “The Russians are wiping out the city with artillery. Civilians there have run out of food, water, and power, and a convoy of humanitarian aid that was set to reach the city on Sunday has still not arrived”.
  • Ceasefire Talks Negotiations between Ukraine and Russia are currently underway. The Ukrainian side reported progress this weekend, although Russia’s shelling of an apartment building in Kyiv on Monday morning has slowed talks. A ceasefire is one of the main goals of today’s talks; past negotiations have focused on the establishment of humanitarian aid and evacuation routes, with limited success.