Today – 8.08.22
Latest Ukraine Updates
Medvedev Claims Russia Will Achieve Objectives in Ukraine
Former Russian President Dmitriy Medvedev said on Monday that his country would achieve its aims in the Ukraine conflict on its own terms. “Russia is conducting a special military operation in Ukraine and is attaining peace on our terms,” Medvedev declared. The politician – who presently serves as deputy chairman of Russia’s security council – also warned that NATO was intent on destroying Russia. He compared NATO action today to that taken during the 2008 war in Georgia. “The goal is the same: to destroy Russia,” he said.
Leading Up To Today
Zelesnsky Seeks to Speak Directly With China About War in Ukraine
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post that he hopes to speak “directly” with China about his country’s ongoing war with Russia. The conversation Zelensky desires would be helpful, he says, but it hasn’t happened. The Ukrainian president believes China has the economic leverage to pressure Russia, and he urged the Asian power to review its attitude toward Russia.
Russia assault Intensifies in the East, but Is Stretched by Fighting Elsewhere
Ukrainian strong points in the east have come under intense attack in recent days, according to Western military analysis and the Ukrainian Army, but the fighting across the nation has taken its toll on Russia’s forces. Despite the Kremlin’s focus and intense fighting that has claimed the lives of thousands of soldiers on both sides, Russia has managed to take just two large cities – Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk – and a few dozen miles of territory around them. Ukrainian forces entrenched in the two suburban towns of Avdiivka and Pisky have slowed the Russian advance to a crawl. Though attacks had intensified in the area, a relative lull has developed, which some military analysts believe is the result of Russian forces diverting to the south to fend off a Ukrainian counteroffensive. The two towns – which are mostly destroyed and deserted, save the soldiers – aren’t great prizes in themselves, but taking them could ease Russian advances toward the three large cities in the region still under Ukrainian control, Bakhmut, Kramatorsk, and Sloviansk.
Russia Accuses US of Having A Direct Role in Ukraine War
Lt. Gen. Igor Konashenkov of the Russian military claims that intercepted calls between Ukrainian officials reveal that the United States is fighting a “proxy war” and has direct involvement in rocket attacks. Konashenkov said: “It is the Biden administration that is directly responsible for all rocket attacks approved by Kyiv on residential areas and civilian infrastructure facilities in settlements of Donbas and other regions that caused mass deaths of civilians.”
Pentagon Responds: A Pentagon spokesperson said it had provided the Ukrainians with “detailed, time-sensitive information to help them understand the threats they face and defend their country against Russian aggression.”
Russia Designates Azov Regiment Terrorist Group
On Tuesday morning, Russia’s Supreme Court officially labeled the Ukrainian Azov Regiment a terrorist organization. The controversial battalion, which was formerly based in the port city of Mariupol, has long been the subject of scrutiny for its leadership and Nazi symbology. This decision by Russia’s highest court means that those who were captured during fighting earlier in the year could face the death penalty.
Ukraine Border Crossings Pass Ten Million
According to the UN Refugee Agency, border crossings of those fleeing the war in Ukraine have now surpassed ten million individuals. “A total of 10,107,957 border crossings from Ukraine have been recorded since Feb. 24, the agency’s tally showed,” Reuters reports.
First Grain Ships Leave Odesa
After almost five months of blockades, the first grain ships have left the Black Sea port of Odesa. The transport was made possible due to an agreement between Turkey, Russia, and Ukraine struck early last month. Despite questions regarding whether the deal would be honored, this shipment represents a slight return to normalcy.
Global Impact: A number of countries have been experiencing food shortages due to the blockade. This development means that famine could be averted. Ukraine’s foreign minister called it “a day of relief for the world.”
House Group to Push Bill Designating Russia as State Sponsor of Terrorism
“Five House members will imminently introduce legislation to officially designate Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism, putting them and Congress on a collision course with the secretary of State, who argues only he can slap that label on a country,” Politico reported Thursday. “The bill — co-led by Reps. Ted Lieu (D-CA), Joe Wilson (R-SC), Jared Golden (D-ME), Adam Kinzinger (R-Il) and Tom Malinowski (D-NJ) – says that ‘the Russian Federation shall be deemed to have been determined to be a country the government of which has repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism.’”
Ukraine Ramps Up Military Efforts
“Ukraine stepped up its drive to retake the Russian-controlled south of the country by trying to bomb and isolate Russian troops in hard-to-resupply areas, but said it saw evidence that Moscow was redeploying its forces to defend the territory,” Reuters reports. Ukrainian authorities say that its planes struck five “Russian strongholds around the city of Kherson and another city in the area.”
Russian Rejection: Kirill Stremousov, the deputy head of the Russian-appointed military-civilian administration running the Kherson region, dismissed claims that Ukraine was making ground. He said, “Zelenskiy’s statement that Kherson region will be liberated in three to six weeks is…a lie. All these counter-offensives that result in a large number of Ukrainian casualties are coming to nothing.”
Ukraine’s American Blacklist
A number of high-profile Americans have been named “Russian propagandists” by President Volodymyr Zelensky’s Ukrainian Center for Countering Disinformation. The most notable inclusions are Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) and former Hawaii Representative Tulsi Gabbard. “The list—which also includes retired U.S. Army Colonel Douglas Macgregor, military strategist Edward Luttwak, political scientist John Mearsheimer and journalist Glenn Greenwald—does not explain what the consequences are for those who Ukraine clearly considers responsible for promoting the Kremlin’s line,” Newsweek reports.
Demanding Support: Greenwald lamented the list, saying, “I thought President Zelenskyy had a war to run… Apparently, he has a lot of time to watch ‘The Morning Joe Show’ on MSNBC, where they sit around for hours accusing everybody they want to discredit of being a Kremlin agent and teaching American liberals how to do the same.”
Russia Dropping Out of International Space Station After 2024
“Russia will pull out of the International Space Station after 2024 and focus on building its own orbiting outpost, the country’s new space chief said Tuesday amid high tensions between Moscow and the West over the fighting in Ukraine,” the Associated Press reports. “The announcement, while not unexpected, throws into question the future of the 24-year-old space station, with experts saying it would be extremely difficult – perhaps a ‘nightmare,’ by one reckoning – to keep it running without the Russians. NASA and its partners had hoped to continue operating it until 2030,” AP details.
No More Gas for EU
Russia says that it will begin cutting gas supplies to Europe as of Wednesday. This is a significant blow to countries that- over the last few years – have increased their reliance on gas energy from foreign nations. However, President Biden’s promise to send more LNG to Europe has apparently exceeded expectations. Reuters reports that “The United States is on track to blow past Biden’s March commitment of an additional 15 billion cubic meters of LNG for Europe this year, according to a Reuters analysis of export data compiled by Refinitiv, and to triple the pledge.”
After Odessa Missile Strikes, Wheat Prices Rocket
Missile attacks on the port city of Odessa have caused a major spike in wheat prices. Just before the weekend, an agreement had been reached that would allow wheat exports to continue from three southern ports, but this recent attack suggests the deal will not be honored. Reuters reports, “Wheat futures on the Chicago Board of Trade rose nearly 4% to $7.86 a bushel on Monday, regaining much of the ground lost on Friday as prices fell nearly 6% after the pact was announced.”
Russia Yet to Eliminate Any Advanced Rocket Systems From the West
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley said that Russia has yet to take out any of the rocket artillery donated to Ukraine by the West. “To date the HIMARS that we have provided them – and we’re not the only country, by the way, other countries are providing long range fires as well, Britain, for example, and some others are donating long range rocket artillery – to date those systems have not been eliminated by the Russians,” he said after the fourth meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contract Group on Wednesday, a platform including 50 countries from around the world.
These Western donated weapons are “already affecting the course of the war,” according to Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov. He also said that the group was presented with an overview of the situation on the battlefield, which, he claimed, showed Russia had suffered significant losses. “These are impressive numbers which prove Ukraine is indeed the shield of Europe,” Reznikov explained.
Russian Missiles Strike Mykolaiv Overnight
Seven missiles struck critical infrastructure in the southern city of Mykolaiv overnight, according to the city’s mayor. “Today at 3 a.m. (local time) it was chaotic shelling of the city,” Mayor Oleksandr Sienkevych said. “I cannot think of any explanation for this shelling, as none of the military objects or warehouses were hit. Critical infrastructure and objects in the vicinity to the civilians were hit. Luckily, there are no casualties.”
Putin: Ukraine Failed to Make Good on Preliminary Peace Deal
“Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday said Moscow did not see any desire from Ukraine to fulfil the terms of what he described as a preliminary peace deal agreed to in March,” Reuters reports. “Putin, speaking to reporters in televised comments after a visit to Iran, said Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were offering to mediate between Russia and Ukraine, which Moscow’s forces invaded in late February. There was no immediate response from the Ukrainian government to Putin’s remarks in the early hours of Wednesday,” the wire service relates.
He Said It: “Putin, asked about a possible meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, said Kyiv had not stuck to the terms of a preliminary peace deal he said had been ‘practically achieved’ in March, without elaborating. ‘The final result of course… depends on the willingness of the contracting parties to implement the agreements that were reached. Today we see the powers in Kyiv have no such desire.’”
Russian Shelling Strikes Cities Across Ukraine
“Russian forces kept up their bombardment of cities across Ukraine, with intense shelling of Sumy in the north, cluster bombs targeting Mykolaiv and a missile strike in Odesa in the south, authorities said on Tuesday,” Reuters reports. “After failing to capture the capital Kyiv at the outset of the invasion on Feb 24, Russia has shifted to a campaign of devastating bombardments to cement and extend its control of Ukraine’s south and east,” the wire service writes.
Cruise Missile Attacks: “Ukraine says Russian forces have intensified long-distance strikes on targets far from the front, killing large numbers of civilians. Moscow says it is hitting military targets. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says Russia had fired more than 3,000 cruise missiles and uncountable artillery shells during the five-month conflict.”
Russia Ramping Up For Next Major Offensive in Ukraine
“Russia is preparing for the next stage of its offensive in Ukraine, a Ukrainian military official said, after Moscow said its forces would step up military operations in ‘all operational areas,’” Reuters reports. “As Western deliveries of long-range arms begin to help Ukraine on the battlefield, Russian rockets and missiles have pounded cities in strikes that Kyiv says have killed dozens in recent days,” the wire service writes.
‘Clearly Preparations Are Now Underway’: “‘It is not only missile strikes from the air and sea,’ Vadym Skibitskyi, a spokesman for Ukrainian military intelligence, said late on Saturday. ‘We can see shelling along the entire line of contact, along the entire front line. There is an active use of tactical aviation and attack helicopters. Clearly preparations are now underway for the next stage of the offensive.’ The Ukrainian military said Russia appeared to be regrouping units for an offensive toward Sloviansk, a symbolically important city held by Ukraine in the eastern region of Donetsk.”
Russian Missiles Kill at Least 20 in Vinnytsia
civilian buildings and a cultural center in the central Ukraine city of Vinnytsia were bombed by Russia, killing at least 20 people and wounding up to 50 more. The city is far from the front lines, and the mid-morning missile strike caught many out in the street. Seven missiles reportedly fired from the Black Sea landed in the city, and another four were shot down.
War Crimes Conference Begins in The Hague
Officials from the International Criminal Court and the European Union are meeting with Ukraine’s top prosecutor, Iryna Venediktova, in The Hague to discuss investigating war crimes committed during the Russian invasion. Prosecutor General Venediktova claims to have identified more than 600 war crime suspects and says that around 80 are currently being prosecuted, while Russia continues to deny any troops have been involved in war crimes. In fact, Russia still refuses to call the conflict a war or an invasion, opting instead for “special military operation” in Ukraine. The ICC, however, seems to be siding with Ukraine in this issue. “The national justice system in Ukraine has already taken important steps of investigation and trial, which we are monitoring,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said in an opening statement. “Given the breadth of the challenges it is facing it is crucial that the international community continues to support increased capacity for Ukraine’s investigations into alleged war crimes committed on its territory, whatever the circumstances.”
Ukraine Expecting New Attacks
Russian shelling in recent days is responsible for an estimated 30 deaths in Ukraine, but the government expects things to get worse. Reuters reports that “Ukraine’s general staff said the shelling across the country amounted to preparations for an intensification of hostilities as Russia seeks to seize Donetsk province, and control the whole of Ukraine’s Donbas industrial heartland.”
Zelensky Warns Russia: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky issued a stark warning to those engaged in war. He said: “You know, Nazi murderers are found and brought to justice even when they are 90 or 100 years old. They are caught all over the world. Of course, we don’t want to wait that long. But I give this example to show that punishment is inevitable for every Russian murderer.”
Ukraine Instructs Citizens to Leave Occupied South
In anticipation of Ukrainian forces attempting to retake Kherson in the Black Sea region, citizens have been instructed to leave the area. “It’s clear there will be fighting, there will be artillery shelling… and we, therefore, urge (people) to evacuate urgently,” Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said.
Expected Hostilities: Without specifying when the military action would begin, she noted, “I know for sure that there should not be women and children there, and that they should not become human shields.”
More Deaths in Kharkiv
Russian shelling of Ukraine’s second city, Kharkiv, resulted in at least three deaths. “Russia’s artillery, multiple rocket launchers and tanks also injured 31 people including two children in Kharkiv, the regional governor said. The Ukrainian president’s office said residential areas had been hit,” Reuters reports.
Western Artillery Having an Impact, Zelensky Says
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said that Western artillery given to his country is finally beginning to have an impact on Russia’s slowly advancing forces. Russia has turned its attention to capturing more of the Donetsk region of the Donbas, and heavy shelling continued along the front line Wednesday. However, Russian forces made limited gains, according to an intelligence update from the British Ministry of Defense.
Raising the Flag on Snake Island Once Again
Ukrainian troops have raised the country’s flag once again on Snake Island, a strategically important outpost on the Black Sea they recaptured last week. The island was occupied by Russian troops at the start of the invasion in February, but Ukrainian forces were finally able to recapture it. Russia claims, however, to have left the island as a “gesture of goodwill.”
Ukraine’s Grain Harvest Not as Bad as Expected
Ukraine now expects to harvest at least 50 million metric tons of grain in 2022. That’s well below the 85 million it produced last year, but still above expectations, according to Taras Vysotskyi, the first deputy minister of Agrarian Policy and Food of Ukraine. “We have internal consumption of less than 20 million tonnes, meaning that at least 30 million tonne of harvest will have to be exported,” he explained. Despite the war, Ukraine’s alternative shipping methods – those that avoid the Black Sea ports – are successfully moving goods in large quantities.
Crowdfunding Buys Ukraine a Drone
A Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 drone has been secured by Lithuania after a local crowdfunding campaign, and is expected to be shipped to Kyiv today. Lithuanian Defense Minister Arvydas Anušauskas tweeted that the drone and ammunition arrived in his country Monday. The crowdfunding campaign was launched by Lithuanian online broadcaster Laisves TV last month, and raised about six million euros. The company that built it, Baykar, donated the drone instead of taking payment other than the 1.5 million needed to arm the unmanned aircraft. “We ask that the raised funds be remitted instead to the struggling people of Ukraine,” the company said in a statement June 27.
Ukraine PM Asks for $750 Billion
The prime minister of Ukraine, Denys Shmyga, has said that rebuilding the nation would require around $750 billion as part of a three-stage recovery plan. Citing direct infrastructure damage totaling more than $100 billion, the politician asked, “Today, the direct infrastructure losses of Ukraine stand at over $100 billion. Who will pay for the renewal plan, which is already being valued at $750 billion?”
Shmyga also said he believes the fund should come from assets confiscated from Russian oligarchs.
Putin Claims Victory in Luhansk
With the withdrawal of Ukrainian troops from the Luhansk region, Russian President Vladimir Putin is turning his attention to Donetsk. Reports suggest that Russia now controls up to 60% of the Donbask region. President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly video address: “The armed forces of Ukraine respond, push back and destroy the offensive potential of the occupiers day after day… We need to break them. It is a difficult task. It requires time and superhuman efforts. But we have no alternative.”
Russia Claims Victory in the East
Local reports say that Ukrainian forces have withdrawn from the city of Lysychansk in the eastern Luhansk region, meaning Russian forces now have control over the entire area. With operational control of Luhansk, it is likely that the Kremlin will not be moving its focus to Donetsk.
Zelensky Defiant: “If the commanders of our army withdraw people from certain points at the front, where the enemy has the greatest advantage in firepower, and this also applies to Lysychansk, it means only one thing,” Zelensky said in response. “That we will return thanks to our tactics, thanks to the increase in the supply of modern weapons.”
Moscow Points Finger at Ukraine for Bombing
Russian leadership has publicly blamed Ukraine for bombing the city of Belgorod near the Ukrainian border. At least three people are known to have been killed and a number of residential buildings have been damaged. Ukraine officials have not claimed responsibility for the attack.
Notable Quote: “I emphasize that this missile attack had been intentionally planned and was launched at the civilian population of Russian cities,” Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said.
More Aid Spending for Ukraine
President Joe Biden announced yet another security assistance package for Ukraine. This is the 14th such package, and it will cost the American taxpayers $800 million. Speaking at the end of the NATO summit in Madrid, Biden said the aid would include heavy artillery, ammunition, advanced air defense systems, counter-battery radar systems, and ammunition for the High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS).
New Prisoner Swap Biggest in the War
Ukraine secured the release of 144 captured soldiers in the biggest exchange of prisoners of war so far during the fight with Russia. The majority of these prisoners were badly wounded, suffering from gunshot and shrapnel wounds, blast traumas, burns, fractured bones, and amputated limbs, according to a report from the intelligence agencies of Ukraine, collectively known as GUR.
Russian Shelling in Kharkiv Kills Five
“Russian forces shelled central districts of the city of Kharkiv on Monday, hitting apartment buildings and a primary school and killing five people and wounding 22,” Reuters reports. This latest attack marks a push from the Russian military as it seeks to gain ground in the ongoing conflict. Five children were among the injured, Oleh Synehubov, the governor of the Kharkiv region, said.
NATO Enormously Boosts Number of High-Readiness Forces
“NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg announced Monday, ahead of a gathering of NATO leaders in Madrid on Tuesday, that the alliance’s high-readiness forces will significantly increase to over 300,000 from 40,000, and that more troops will be sent to the member countries bordering Russia,” Politico reports. “The nearly eightfold increase comes amid Moscow’s continuing invasion of Ukraine, where Russian forces have pushed deeper into the eastern Donbas region and are poised to make additional gains,” the news site details.
Identifying China as Threat: “Of the NATO’s priorities — set to be outlined in the Strategic Concept, a document seeing its first update since 2010 — Stoltenberg said Russia will no longer be characterized as a strategic partner, but as ‘the most significant and direct threat to our security.’ For the first time, China will be addressed as a challenger to the alliance’s security interests.”
Russian Forces Home In On Lysychansk
“Russian forces were fighting on Monday to capture Lysychansk, the last major city still held by Ukrainian troops in eastern Luhansk province, after Moscow-backed separatists said they were advancing on multiple fronts,” Reuters reports. “In a victory for the Kremlin’s campaign, Lysychansk’s twin city of Sievierodonetsk, the scene of some of the bloodiest fighting, fell to pro-Russian forces on Saturday. Russian missiles also struck Kyiv for the first time in weeks on Sunday, attacks condemned by President Biden as ‘barbarism,’” the wire service states.
Breaking Through? “Tass news agency on Sunday quoted a separatist official as saying Moscow’s forces had entered Lysychansk from five directions and were isolating Ukrainian defenders.”
G7 Reaches New Agreement
The Group of Seven (G7) is expected to announce on Tuesday, June 28, that it has agreed to a new package of coordinated actions to apply pressure to Russia over the invasion of Ukraine. This news comes as Russia defaults on overdue interest payments for the first time in 40 years.
“This morning’s news around the finding of Russia’s default, for the first time in more than a century, situates just how strong the actions are that the U.S., along with allies and partners have taken, as well as how dramatic the impact has been on Russia’s economy,” a US official said.
Severodonetsk Situation Stable
“As of now, the situation is difficult, stable, the fighting is ongoing,” Oleksii Hromov, deputy head of the Main Operations Directorate of Ukraine’s General Staff of the Armed Forces, said in a briefing. Hromov conceded that Russia has damaged Ukraine’s supply routes into the city and that the invaders maintain fire advantage, but he said the troops have managed to maneuver among the fortified positions and that alternative ways of sending in supplies and bringing out the wounded have been found.
Russia Controls More Than Half of Donetsk
A mere 45% of the region of Donetsk remains under Ukrainian control. The head of the region’s military administration, Pavlo Kyrylenko, explained that the Ukrainians have serious battles ahead as Russia continues to shell the Bakhmut-Lysychansk highway to isolate Severondonetsk and Lysychansk from outside supplies.
Ukraine Seems EU Bound
The heads of the 27 existing members of the European Union are considering Ukraine’s bid to join the EU. Earlier in the day, the European Parliament adopted a resolution 529-45 calling on the leaders to approved Ukraine’s candidate status “without delay.” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky commented on the progress, saying that EU membership is the nation’s “choice of our future vision.”
(Photo by Pier Marco Tacca/Getty Images)
Russia Claims M777 Howitzer Destruction
The Russian Ministry of Defense claims to have destroyed 155mm M-777 howitzers sent to Ukraine by the US and other western nations. It’s currently unclear how many may have been destroyed, and Ukrainian officials have yet to comment publicly on the claim.
Ukraine to Get Mars II Systems and Training
According to Christine Lambrect, Germany’s defense minister, the German military is planning to train Ukrainian soldiers on the Multiple Launch Rocket System Mars II. The training will be conducted in Germany and could begin as early as next week. Once the training is complete, Lambrect says delivery of the weapons can begin. Germany plans to send three such systems, with the UK also sending three and the US four.
Mykolaiv Missile Strike
The southern Ukraine city of Mykolaiv was hit by seven Russian missiles Wednesday, according to Vitaly Kim, the head of the regional military administration, who was inspecting local harvests when the attack occurred. “As of now we know about two private enterprises affected. Some fuel and lubricant materials were on the premises of those enterprises,” explained Mykolaiv Mayor Oleksandr Sienkevych. “Due to the missile hit into one of the enterprises the fuel and lubricant materials set on fire and now the whole city is covered with black smoke.” A school and a five-story building were also affected by the blasts, according to the mayor.