Putin’s War Russia-Ukraine April 2022 –

Written by  //  May 16, 2022  //  Russia, Ukraine  //  No comments

The Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their Additional Protocols
The Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols are at the core of international humanitarian law, the body of international law that regulates the conduct of armed conflict and seeks to limit its effects. They specifically protect people who are not taking part in the hostilities (civilians, health workers and aid workers) and those who are no longer participating in the hostilities, such as wounded, sick and shipwrecked soldiers and prisoners of war. The Conventions and their Protocols call for measures to be taken to prevent or put an end to all breaches. They contain stringent rules to deal with what are known as “grave breaches”. Those responsible for grave breaches must be sought, tried or extradited, whatever nationality they may hold.

Russia Planned a Major Military Overhaul. Ukraine Shows the Result.
This war has exposed the fact that, to Russia’s detriment, much of the military culture and learned behavior of the Soviet era endures: inflexibility in command structure, corruption in military spending, and concealing casualty figures and repeating the mantra that everything is going according to plan.
(NYT) Army vehicles were so decrepit that repair crews were stationed roughly every 15 miles. Some officers were so out of shape that the military budgeted $1.5 million to re-size standard uniforms.
That was the Russian military more than a decade ago when the country invaded Georgia, according to the defense minister at the time. The shortcomings, big and small, were glaring enough that the Kremlin announced a complete overhaul of the military to build a leaner, more flexible, professional force.
But now, almost three months into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it is clear the Kremlin fell woefully short of creating an effective fighting machine. Russian forces in Ukraine have underperformed to a degree that has surprised most Western analysts, raising the prospect that President Vladimir V. Putin’s military operation could end in failure.

11 May
Putin prepared for ‘prolonged’ conflict, U.S. intelligence chief says
(WaPo) Russian President Vladimir Putin is prepared for a prolonged conflict in Ukraine, betting that Russia is more willing and able to endure the longer-term effects of the war than Moscow’s adversaries, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines told senators on Tuesday.
But the war may grow more volatile in the next few months, she said. Both Ukraine and Russia appear confident in achieving battlefield progress, making a diplomatic path unlikely. That, combined with the mismatch between Putin’s ambitions and the Russian military’s capabilities, means the war could become more “unpredictable and escalatory,” she said.
Putin’s strange war in Ukraine has no endgame in sight
The Russian president’s mendacious speech on Victory Day was consistent with previous delusional statements, but his army’s tactics in Ukraine are harder to decipher
Alon Pinkas
(Haaretz) While the speech wasn’t escalatory in practical statements, it was undoubtedly a breathtaking display of lies, patently false arguments and a mendacious historical narrative. That the invasion was “inevitable, timely and the only correct decision” because Russia needed to “denazify” Ukraine is a familiar trope from Putin, underlining his entire Ukraine rationale. But he went even further this time: the United States and NATO deliberately expanded to Russia’s borders to precipitate conflict; NATO was planning to attack Russia through Crimea; Ukraine was considering acquiring nuclear weapons; the United States is trying to “cancel Russian values.”
Ultimately, he framed the brutal and unjustifiable invasion of Ukraine as some heroic clash of core values between civilizations. This has been a central tenet of Putin’s nationalist-messianic-delusional narrative about the Russian “humiliation,” and restoring its greatness and geopolitical stature since at least 2014.
At the same time, repeating it didn’t merely show consistency but exposed a weak, out-of-touch leader whose perceptions of reality are distorted and likely rely on lies, inaccurate accounts and selective intelligence from the dwindling circle of sycophants around him.
Putin’s rationale for war and the West’s anticipation of Russian escalation highlights a perplexing question that has gone unanswered since the invasion began 76 days ago: notwithstanding the planning, operational and logistical military failures, Russia has immense firepower so why has it not employed it more comprehensively?
In other words, why has Russia refrained from acting in a more brutal and destructive way?
For sure, the war has been atrocious with cities leveled, thousands killed and millions displaced. But in the United States and NATO, there is no definitive answer as to why Russia hasn’t employed broader and more lethal firepower.

10 May
The ripple effects of Russia’s war in Ukraine are changing the world
(NPR) Far from Russia’s war in Ukraine, stores are running out of cooking oil, people are paying more at the gas pump, farmers are scrambling to buy fertilizer and nations are rethinking alliances.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has triggered seismic repercussions: a fast-moving refugee crisis, unprecedented sanctions against a major economy and a shakeup of global relationships, including a reinvigorated NATO. Below, we zoom in on some of the ways the world has changed since the war began on Feb. 24.

5 May
The New Cold War Could Soon Heat Up
Why Russia and the West Might Escalate the Fight Over Ukraine
By Ian Bremmer
(Foreign Affairs) Gone are the days when Russia’s war aims consisted solely of “de-Nazifying and demilitarizing” Ukraine. Also gone are the days when U.S. and allied governments limited their involvement to helping Ukraine defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity. Leaders on both sides of the conflict have now crossed a series of lines that cannot easily be uncrossed. The result is a new Cold War between Russia and its opponents—one that promises to be less global than its twentieth-century counterpart but also less stable and predictable. …
Despite the asymmetry between Moscow and Washington in traditional measures of power, Russia’s most sophisticated digital weapons are more destabilizing than the nuclear missiles that threatened the United States and Europe in the 1980s. Cyberweapons can’t instantly kill people, but they remain highly destructive—capable of inflicting serious damage on financial systems, power grids, and other essential infrastructure. Most important, states are far more likely to use cyberweapons than other weapons of mass destruction because they are easier to build, easier to hide, extremely hard to defend against, and nearly impossible to deter.
Washington should take little comfort in the fact that Putin has not yet wielded the most destructive of these weapons. Effective cyberattacks take months, perhaps years, to plan, and the war in Ukraine has only just begun. Just as the United States and Europe responded to the invasion by punishing Russia economically, Moscow can use its cyberweapons to cripple the United States and Europe politically—by targeting upcoming elections with ever-larger and more frequent waves of disinformation.

3 May
Thomas Friedman: A Message to the Biden Team on Ukraine
Last week, in Poland, standing near the border with Ukraine, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin got my attention — and certainly Vladimir Putin’s — when he declared that America’s war aim in Ukraine is no longer just helping Ukraine restore its sovereignty, but … “We want to see Russia weakened to the degree that it can’t do the kinds of things that it has done in invading Ukraine. So, it has already lost a lot of military capability. And a lot of its troops, quite frankly. And we want to see them not have the capability to very quickly reproduce that capability.”
…I hope that this war ends with Russia’s military sharply degraded and Putin out of power. I’d just never say so publicly if I were in leadership, because it buys you nothing and can potentially cost you a lot.
… Our goal began simple and should stay simple: Help Ukrainians fight as long as they have the will and help them negotiate when they feel the time is right — so they can restore their sovereignty and we can reaffirm the principle that no country can just devour the country next door. Freelance beyond that and we invite trouble.
How so? For starters, I don’t want America responsible for what happens in Russia if Putin is toppled.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, May 1
(Institute for the Study of War/ISW) ISW has updated its assessment of the four primary efforts Russian forces are engaged in at this time:
Main effort—Eastern Ukraine (comprised of two subordinate supporting efforts);
Supporting effort 1—Kharkiv and Izyum;
Supporting effort 2—Southern axis;
Supporting effort 3—Sumy and northeastern Ukraine.
Immediate items to watch
Russian attacks from Izyum will likely be at least temporarily disrupted by the attack on the Russian command post in the area.
Russian forces will likely attempt to starve out the remaining defenders of the Azovstal Steel Plant in Mariupol.
Russian forces may be preparing to conduct renewed offensive operations to capture the entirety of Kherson Oblast in the coming days.
Russian forces may be preparing to attempt an operation to seize Odesa from the east and west, although the success of such an operation is very unlikely.

30 April
Armed forces pile pressure on Putin to unleash full might on Ukraine
Harsh criticism of the ‘dwarves in the Kremlin’ over failed blitz on Kyiv and stalled offensive
(The Telegraph/Montreal Gazette) “The military are outraged that the blitz on Kyiv has failed,” Irina Borogan, a Russian journalist and author with contacts in the security services, told The Daily Telegraph.
“People in the army are seeking payback for failures of the past and they want to go further in Ukraine.”
And it seems their calls are being heard. Ben Wallace, the Defence Secretary, said on Thursday that Mr Putin was likely to announce general mobilisation of the Russian population within weeks to make up for military losses.
Declaring all-out war with Ukraine would entail two things the Kremlin has so far tried to avoid: martial law and mass mobilisation.
Mobilisation would mean Russia will need to call up reservists and keep conscripts beyond their one-year term, a politically fraught decision.
Martial law would close the country’s borders and nationalise large parts of the economy, which is hanging by a thread. Mr Putin has been anxious to maintain a semblance of normality in Russia amid crippling Western sanctions, ordering his cabinet to come up with financial aid for families and businesses.

28 April
Ukraine recap: the (apprehensive) view from neighbouring Moldova
Jonathan Este, Associate Editor, International Affairs Editor
(The Conversation) A series of fires at oil depots inside Russia have been reported as possible acts of Ukrainian sabotage, while in the breakaway Moldovan region of Transnistria, attacks on a security agency building in the region’s capital, Tiraspol, and on a military unit in a village just outside Tiraspol, were blamed by an official on Ukrainian “infiltrators”. For its part, Ukraine says this is clearly a “false flag” operation which could be used by Moscow as an excuse to extend the conflict to Moldova.
This followed a statement on Friday April 22 about Russia’s aims for “stage two” of its war, by top Russian general, Rustam Minnekayev. He said that Russia would aim to occupy and control the south and east of the country, blocking Ukraine’s access to the Black Sea and providing “another way out to Transnistria, where there are also cases of oppression of the Russian-speaking population”.

26-27 April
Russia cuts natural gas to 2 NATO nations in escalation
(AP) — Russia cut off natural gas to NATO members Poland and Bulgaria on Wednesday and threatened to do the same to other countries, dramatically escalating its standoff with the West over the war in Ukraine. European leaders decried the move as “blackmail.”
A day after the U.S. and other Western allies vowed to speed more and heavier weapons to Ukraine, the Kremlin used its most most essential export as leverage against two of Kyiv’s staunch backers
Russia’s war in Ukraine threatens to spill over in dangerous new phase
A series of mysterious explosions in Moldova have raised the threat of Russia’s war in Ukraine spilling over into new territory, with unpredictable consequences.
(The Guardian) The blasts destroyed radio antennas in a Russian-garrisoned sliver of eastern Moldova along the Ukrainian border, Transnistria, which had been peaceful since a brief conflict in 1992 waged by Kremlin-backed separatists against the Moldovan army.
The separatist authorities blamed the incidents on Ukrainian infiltrators while the Kyiv government alleged they were false-flag attacks designed to provide a pretext for an infusion of Russian troops, to add to the 1,500 already based there, just as similar blasts in the Donbas preceded the 24 February Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Those allegations were given greater weight when residents in Transnistria received fake SMS texts on Tuesday warning of an imminent Ukrainian attack. The Moldovan president, Maia Sandu, convened an emergency meeting of her security council and declared that forces were at play in Transnistria which were “interested in destabilising the region”.

Jeremy Kinsman: The War, the Reckoning, and its Aftermath
(Policy) It is hard to envisage any kind of “normal” relationships soon between any G7 country and Russia as long as Putin is in power (though calls to cut all Canada’s contacts with Russia are juvenile – the Arctic Council, for example, is vital). Increasingly severe sanctions on Russia for the invasion have been cemented by the evidence of a mass crime scene whose repercussions will last for a generation. The notion of Russia now participating in G20 discussions of international management of the world economy, after violating basic world rules by a gratuitous war against a neighbour whose costs will be a trillion dollars, is absurd.
Russia will emerge severely weakened. Despite old-style declarations by US national security advisor Jake Sullivan that it suits US purposes (including political) to see Russia so diminished, echoed on NATO’s Eastern flank, thought needs to be given to ways to encourage post-conflict rehabilitation – of Russia, but more importantly, of confidence in the international rules-based order, increasingly undermined by a corrosive culture of disinformation facilitated by communications platforms.

25 April
Ukraine invasion: ‘stage two’ of Russia’s war is ringing alarm bells in nearby Moldova – here’s why
(The Conversation) The second stage of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is underway. The scope of the war now appears to be establishing full control over Donbas and southern Ukraine. If successful, this would mean Russian occupation of approximately one-third of Ukraine, cutting the country off from its Black Sea ports, including Odesa.
If fully realised, these objectives also raise the deeply worrying prospect of a Russian move on Moldova and its break-away region of Transnistria. Stage two of Putin’s war could thus very well imply a more serious escalation.

22-23 April
Putin’s Unholy War
Faith matters during times of war, especially in neighboring predominantly Orthodox countries like Russia and Ukraine with a deeply intertwined religious inheritance. As the current conflict evolves, it is increasingly clear that the messages reaching Russian and Ukrainian Orthodox congregations are strikingly different. This spiritual dimension will have a crucial impact on the ultimate outcome of the war and looks set to further deepen the divide that separates modern Russia and Ukraine.
(Atlantic Council) Religion has long been at the heart of the troubled relationship between the two countries, with the Russian Orthodox Church historically serving to strengthen Russia’s imperial authority over Ukraine. In recent years, religious ties played a central role in Putin’s efforts to prevent Ukraine from exiting the Russian sphere of influence.
Many Ukrainians have been outraged by Russian Orthodox Church leader Patriarch Kirill’s open and frequently outspoken support for the war, which has included echoing Putin’s claims regarding Ukraine’s place within the so-called “Russian world.” Ukrainians have also been shocked and distressed to see the religious leader apparently bless the killing of Ukrainian soldiers.
This dismay has expressed itself in spiritual resistance that has rallied Ukraine’s fragmented Orthodox denominations. Metropolitan Onuphry, who heads the Moscow Patriarchate, has issued an unprecedented statement urging Putin to end the war. Meanwhile, more than 300 priests from his church are petitioning for Patriarch Kirill’s removal, something inconceivable just weeks ago
Russian Orthodox priests and deacons from around the world have publicly called on Patriarch Kirill to take a stronger peace stance. Some believers are leaving the Russian Orthodox Church altogether in protest, with numerous individual parishes defecting.
Other Christian leaders have also expressed their alarm over the role of the Russian Orthodox Church in Putin’s war of aggression. The World Council of Churches is reportedly considering expelling the Russian Orthodox Church from its fellowship. Pope Francis has been particularly vocal in his appeals for peace and has recently cancelled plans for a June meeting with Patriarch Kirill in Jerusalem.

Military analysts forecast that the problems bedeviling Russia’s forces will continue in the east.
(NYT) Big militaries fight with tight organization and strict hierarchy, with multiple levels of command ensuring that large number of forces can move in a coordinated way, but during the current invasion, analysts and U.S. officials have said, the Russian military has abandoned that structure. It has formed 800-person-strong battalion tactical groups, and to fill them out it has combined units that had not previously worked together, and gutted the middle layers of its battlefield command structure.
The Ukrainian military claimed on Saturday that it destroyed a Russian command post in the southern region of Kherson, which has been largely under Russian control since the early days of the war.
(NYT) In a separate statement, Oleksiy Arestovych, a former Ukrainian military intelligence officer who is now an adviser to the Ukrainian president’s office, said that about 50 senior Russian officers were in the command center at the time of the attack. The Ukrainian military claimed later that two Russian generals were killed and another critically injured and had to be evacuated.
Ballistic missiles won’t make the difference in the Donbas — drones will
The war in Ukraine is entering a new phase, and what’s required on the battlefield is changing.
(Politico Eu) … in the unfolding battle for the Donbas, it is actually logistics and smaller, cheaper conventional weapons, albeit advanced ones, that will make the real difference — not intercontinental missiles.
Hence the constant public and behind-the-scenes appeals by Ukrainians for more weaponry — requests United States President Joe Biden’s administration is going some way to respond to, with the announcement of $800 million in new arms supplies on Thursday. The new U.S. weapon deliveries will include 72 long-range howitzers and towing vehicles, along with 144,000 artillery rounds and more than 120 drones tailored for Ukraine’s needs.
As Russian forces seek to expand their control of the oblasts of Donetsk and Luhansk and firmly establish a land bridge with Crimea, it is this type of weaponry — reconnaissance and armed drones, howitzers, light anti-tank weapons, like Britain’s Next generation Light Anti-tank Weapons (NLAWs) — that will determine the outcome of the skirmishes to come.
Take the sinking of the flagship vessel of Russia’s Black Sea fleet, which was taken out on April 14 by one of Ukraine’s Neptune missiles. The Neptune is an updated Soviet-era anti-ship missile that entered service just over a year ago. There are also some reports that a Turkish Bayraktar armed drone may have played a role in the ship’s fate as well.

20 April
Ian Bremmer: The price of Russian defeat
Unpalatable as it may be, the desire to beat Putin thoroughly must be weighed against the dangers of pushing him to escalate further.
…there’s only so much more the West can do to him in response. Russia is already a pariah for the advanced industrial democracies, the economy is well on its way to being cut off, the West is already throwing its full weight behind Ukraine, and Putin knows that NATO is not going to risk nuclear war by directly intervening in the conflict.
What’s to stop him, then, from responding to battlefield losses and international isolation by using scorched-earth tactics against Ukrainian cities, killing many more civilians, or from using chemical weapons or even tactical nuclear weapons, as President Zelensky warned last weekend? What’s to stop him from intensifying his asymmetric warfare against the West, including through more frequent cyber, disinformation, and subversion attacks? That’s the danger of acting as if Russia can be fully defeated without consequences. And that’s why I remain pessimistic about where the war is heading.
Both morally and strategically, we have an obligation to consider the risks of forcing Putin into a position where his only options are to capitulate or escalate, knowing full well that he doesn’t have a capitulation button and that he can rain much more death and destruction on Ukraine than he has thus far.
Ukraine Live Updates: Fighting Flares in East, as Russia Issues Warning With Missile Test
President Vladimir Putin said those who threaten Russia should “think twice,” though his Defense Ministry said the weapon needed more testing before it could be deployed. Moscow’s offensive in eastern Ukraine continued, as Ukrainian officials said they were pushing back.

19 April
The Economist Today: Russia begins a new phase of its war in Ukraine
The coming weeks may see the biggest tank clashes in decades
“IT CAN NOW be stated that Russian troops have begun the battle for Donbas,” pronounced Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s president, late on April 18th. More than three weeks have passed since Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, abandoned his assault on Kyiv and retreated from northern Ukraine, defeated. Now Mr Putin is throwing a large portion of his weary army at eastern Ukraine in the hope of salvaging something from his war. The coming weeks are likely to see the bloodiest battles since Russia first invaded Donbas in 2014.
Neither the operation nor its aims—encircling or pushing back elite Ukrainian troops based in the region—come as a surprise. Ukraine has been preparing for this moment since the start of the war, digging new lines of defence along the main road arteries and other axes of potential advance. The initial clashes reported by Mr Zelensky and his officials are likely to be a mixture of Russian reconnaissance, to establish the strength of Ukrainian defences, and shelling, to soften them up in advance of ground attacks that will follow.
Kyiv says Russia aims to grab land, crush Ukraine’s armed forces
(Reuters) – The aim of Russia’s new military offensive in east Ukraine is to grab land, establish an overground link between territories in the east and Crimea, and crush Ukraine’s armed forces, Ukraine’s defence ministry said on Tuesday.
Ministry spokesperson Oleksandr Motuznyak said Russian forces were attacking along the entire front line in eastern Ukraine, pressing their siege of Mariupol in the south and trying to encircle cities in the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.
Ukrainians deported to Russia from besieged Mariupol dream of home
Liudmyla Denisova, Ukraine’s ombudswoman for human rights, said last week that Russia had taken 134,000 people from Mariupol and that 33,000 of those were forcibly deported. Reuters was unable to determine the accuracy of those statistics.
The 1949 Geneva Conventions, which defined legal standards for humanitarian treatment in conflict, prohibit the mass forcible transfer of civilians during an international conflict to the territory of the occupying power, classifying it as a war crime.

18 April
Moscow continues mis(dis)information about Moskva
Moskva crewman’s mother says dozens died when flagship sank
by Julian O’Shaughnessy
Questions are being asked, including on state television, about why the fire on board was not contained. Conceding that the flagship was lost because of negligence could also cause irreparable damage to the Russian public’s image of their armed forces. Alexander Baunov, a political analyst, said: “For Russian state commentators and propagandists, there is no good version of the sinking of the Moskva.”
(The Times UK) The mother of a sailor who survived the sinking of the Moskva last week has contradicted claims by the Kremlin that the 500 crew members were safely evacuated, saying that dozens died or suffered horrific injuries. Images and a short video have been posted online that appear to support her account. They show Russia’s Black Sea flagship, a guided-missile cruiser, engulfed in flames and listing to port shortly before it sank off the coast of Ukraine. The rescue rafts are missing, suggesting that they were deployed during an attempt to evacuate the crew from the burning warship.
Ukraine says the Moskva sank after being hit with Neptune anti-ship missiles that were fired from its naval facility in Odesa, with the ship’s radar systems distracted by a decoy drone shortly before the missiles were launched.
Russia insists that the warship was badly damaged after a fire on board led to an “ammunitions blast”, and that it sank “in a storm” while being towed to its home port of Sevastopol, Crimea. However, weather records show that wind speeds in the region were barely four miles an hour when the Mosvka went down, and in the video the sea looks calm.

17 April
The Economist Today Newsletter
More than 50 days have passed since Russia invaded Ukraine. Amid a continuing lull in the fighting on land, this week the Russians suffered an astonishing setback at sea: the loss of the Moskva, flagship of the Black Sea fleet—to our missiles, said the Ukrainians (and the Pentagon); to a fire on board, claimed the Russians. The relative quiet is, of course, deceptive. Vladimir Putin is believed to be preparing an offensive in south-eastern Ukraine in the hope of claiming some sort of victory by May 9th, when Russia commemorates the defeat of Germany in 1945. Mr Putin has put General Alexander Dvornikov, who conducted a brutal campaign in Syria in support of Bashar al-Assad, in command in Ukraine. He may impose more organisation on the Russian effort, and inflict even more misery on Ukrainians.
As we await the Russian push, we are again watching Mariupol, a key southern port that has suffered weeks of bombardment. Mariupol’s refusal to fall is but one of many instances of Ukrainian resilience. In our latest weekly edition we examine what animates the country’s resistance. A remarkable capacity for self-organisation , we conclude. But, looking ahead to the task facing Ukraine once the war is over, that will not be enough to rebuild a shattered country. Economists put the bill at up to half a trillion dollars.

14-16 April
Historic loss of flagship deals humiliating blow to Russia’s naval power
(Kyiv Independent) The Moskva is the first major warship destroyed in combat by a Ukrainian anti-ship missile. And it is the first Russian flagship destroyed and lost since World War II.
Moreover, it is a key warship lost in combat to a nation that has effectively no navy.
The sensational loss challenges Russia’s status as a naval power and undermines its air defense capabilities against Ukraine in the Black Sea. …
The very elusive Russian version says that the 11,500-ton flagship, the Black Sea Fleet’s key vessel, sank following a fire and a detonation, triggered by an unknown factor.
As of April 16, more than two days after the incident, Russia has not officially delivered any information on any casualties among over 500 crew members and said nothing about the reportedly evacuated crew’s whereabouts and status.
In Russian-occupied Sevastopol, also not a single word was officially delivered on the Russian sailors’ fate, as of April 16.
Meanwhile, the Moskva disaster may greatly surpass the death toll of the ill-fated Kursk submarine, which sank in 2000, shortly following Vladimir Putin’s coming to power. The catastrophe, in which 118 Russian sailors were killed, caused a nationwide stir in Russia — unlike the current situation.
Satellite Image Pinpoints Russian Cruiser Moskva As She Burned
(Naval News) Analysis of radar satellite imagery has revealed the location of the Moskva soon after she was reportedly hit by 2 missiles. The Russian Navy cruiser was the flagship of the Black Sea Fleet and is a symbolic as well as naval loss for Russia.
Russian warship sinks in the Black Sea after Ukraine claims it was hit by a missile
(CNN) One of the Russian Navy’s most important warships has sunk in the Black Sea, a massive blow to a military struggling against Ukrainian resistance 50 days into Vladimir Putin’s invasion of his neighbor.
Russian state news agency TASS reported Thursday evening that the guided-missile cruiser Moskva had sunk, citing a statement from the Russian Ministry of Defense.
“During the towing of the cruiser Moskva to the port of destination, the ship lost its stability due to hull damage received during a fire from the detonation of ammunition. In the conditions of stormy seas, the ship sank,” the statement said, according to TASS.

12-13 April
Putin Vows To Pursue War to Its ‘Full Completion’ but for the first time he effectively defined a more limited goal of gaining control of the separatist eastern Donbas region rather than the entire country.
Russia is pouring troops and equipment into eastern Ukraine. Ukrainian officials thwarted a Russian cyberattack on Ukraine’s power grid.
Syrians help defend Ukraine against Russia, whose troops are now led by their brutal commander Dvornikov
White Helmets: ‘The time and place have changed, but the victim is the same — civilians — and the killer is the same’
Syrian and Ukrainian organizations have formed a coalition called the Syria Ukraine Network (SUN), Insider reports. Olga Lautman, a senior fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis, said she’s connecting Syrian groups, ranging from war crime experts to the White Helmets to Ukrainian organizations on the ground in Ukraine so Syrians can pass along advice and best practices on how to navigate attacks on civilians.
“From our experiences in Syria, we might be among those most able to understand the pain of the people of Ukraine,” Raed al-Saleh, head of the Syria Civil Defence force, known as the White Helmets, recently told Agence France-Presse.

7-11 April
Ukraine says tens of thousands killed in Mariupol, accuses Russia of abuses
(Reuters) – Ukraine on Monday said tens of thousands of people have likely been killed in Russia’s assault on the southeastern city of Mariupol while the country’s rights ombudswoman accused Russian forces in the region of torture and executions.
Reuters has confirmed widespread destruction in Mariupol but could not verify the alleged crimes or the estimate of those killed in the strategic city, which lies between Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern areas of Ukraine held by Russian-backed separatists.
New Russian war chief will bring more brutality in Ukraine, US warns
Moscow promotes Alexander Dvornikov, who led Russian troops in Syria, as it regroups for Donbas battle
[U.S. national security adviser Jake] Sullivan said Dvornikov’s promotion would lead to more atrocities. “This particular general has a résumé that includes brutality against civilians in other theatres – in Syria – and we can expect more of the same” in Ukraine, he said.
Timothy Snyder: Russia’s genocide handbook
The evidence of atrocity and of intent mounts
Russia has just issued a genocide handbook for its war on Ukraine. The Russian official press agency “RIA Novosti” published last Sunday an explicit program for the complete elimination of the Ukrainian nation as such. It is still available for viewing, and has now been translated several times into English.
As I have been saying since the war began, “denazification” in official Russian usage just means the destruction of the Ukrainian state and nation
Julius Strauss: The Bodies from Srebrenica
The Bosnian war began 30 years ago this week. Some of the parallels with Ukraine are striking.
When the Bosnian war started three decades ago few imagined the horrors that lay ahead.
But perhaps most striking is the flat denial among the aggressors that they have done anything wrong.
When photographs and videos of the killings at Bucha were broadcast this week the Russian government simply put out a statement saying the images were all fakes.
And almost every Bosnian Serb I spoke to during my recent trip to Bosnia – and there were many – said that Srebrenica was not a genocide.

6 April
The Russo-Ukraine War: Phase Two
By Lawrence Freedman, Emeritus Professor of War Studies at King’s College London.
(Comment is Freed) …even if Russia does acquire the territory it seeks in the Donbas and prepares for a climactic defensive battle, there still remains the perplexing question about the nature of Putin’s end game. From the start the most baffling aspect of this war has been the incoherence of Russian strategy. The gap between stated aims and available capabilities was wide enough when it started but it has now widened even further, especially after being defeated in the war’s first round.
… Maybe he will soon lose interest in a land grab but satisfy himself with a de-industrialised and impoverished Ukraine, its people traumatised and its infrastructure broken. There are suggestions from American intelligence, who seem to have some good sources, that Putin has set a target for Russian forces to get the whole operation concluded in time for 9th May, the anniversary of the conclusion of the Second World war, and normally marked by a big parade in Moscow. There is another round of intense military action to come but if that fails as badly as that of the first round then perhaps he can do no more than look at the mess his forces have made of Ukraine by 9th May and call it a day.

5 April
Russian cruelty laid bare
The massacre at Bucha is just the latest in a long history of Moscow’s brutality
Julius Strauss
Russia has announced it is withdrawing its forces from the area around Kyiv and strengthening its push in the east of Ukraine. As its forces pulled out they left behind destroyed villages, bodies and mass graves. But, as I write here, this is far from the first time Russia has murdered civilians in war zones. In fact, it has become their standard operation procedure.
“I don’t think that, by their standards, there is anything unusual in what the Russians did in Bucha,” a western politician who has long-standing ties with Ukraine and Russia told me yesterday. “Just look at Chechnya.”
Satellite images show bodies in Bucha for weeks, rebutting Moscow claim
Kremlin has dismissed the graphic images emerging from the town as “fakes” concocted by Ukraine.
(AFP via International Business Times) “High-resolution Maxar satellite imagery collected over Bucha, Ukraine (northwest of Kyiv) verifies and corroborates recent social media videos and photos that reveal bodies lying in the streets and left out in the open for weeks,” Maxar Technologies spokesman Stephen Wood said Monday in a statement.
The New York Times published an analysis of close-ups of Bucha’s Yablonska street, and concluded — after comparing it with video footage from April 1 and 2 of dead bodies along the street — that many had been there since at least three weeks ago, when Russian forces were in control of the town.

4 April
Nina L. Khrushcheva: Putin’s war will destroy Russia
(Project Syndicate via Globe & Mail) By attacking another European country, Putin crossed a line that was drawn after World War II – and changed the world. But he also changed Russia, from a functioning autocracy to a Stalinesque dictatorship, a country characterized by violent repression, inscrutable arbitrariness, and a massive brain drain.

3 April
Max Boot: The atrocities in Bucha are no aberration. This is the Russian way of war.
(WaPo) The Ukrainian government proclaimed on Saturday that all of the Kyiv administrative region had been freed of Russian control. It was as if the Free French forces were entering Paris in 1944.
The reason civilians were so jubilant to be liberated has become grimly apparent. Sickening pictures from Bucha, a suburb of Kyiv, show the corpses of residents who had been bound, shot and left by the side of the road. The mayor of Bucha said that some 270 people had been found in two mass graves and another 40 were lying dead in the streets.

Russia-Ukraine: A negotiated settlement will be difficult
Steven Pifer, Center for International Security and Cooperation
(Brookings) Kyiv’s proposals offer a serious bid to end the war. Zelensky clearly wants a halt to the fighting, as more Ukrainians die each day, but he is not prepared to give away the store. Any negotiation will require tough decisions on the settlement terms—decisions that should be made by Zelensky and his government, as any compromises could prove controversial in a country that has united against the Russian aggressor. … However, no real negotiation will be possible unless and until the Kremlin recognizes that it cannot achieve its objectives by force and that it will have to back off of its maximalist demands. If and when matters reach that point, the hard bargaining will begin. (31 March)

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