Putin’s War Russia-Ukraine 21 March 2023-

Written by  //  May 31, 2023  //  Russia, Ukraine  //  No comments

Four maps that explain the Russia-Ukraine conflict
Institute for the Study of War (ISW)
More on Putin’s War

23-31 May
Ian Bremmer: No, the US didn’t “provoke” the war in Ukraine
Is the US to blame for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine?
That’s what Jeffrey Sachs thinks. In a recent op-ed titled “The War in Ukraine Was Provoked” the Columbia University professor – a man I’ve known and respected for a solid 25 years, who was once hailed as “the most important economist in the world” and who’s played a leading role in the fight against global poverty – argues that the United States is responsible for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to attack Ukraine 15 months ago.
The War in Ukraine Was Provoked—and Why That Matters to Achieve Peace
Jeffrey Sachs
By recognizing that the question of NATO enlargement is at the center of this war, we understand why U.S. weaponry will not end this war. Only diplomatic efforts can do that.
(Common Dreams) Regarding the Ukraine War, the Biden administration has repeatedly and falsely claimed that the Ukraine War started with an unprovoked attack by Russia on Ukraine on February 24, 2022. In fact, the war was provoked by the U.S. in ways that leading U.S. diplomats anticipated for decades in the lead-up to the war, meaning that the war could have been avoided and should now be stopped through negotiations.
Recognizing that the war was provoked helps us to understand how to stop it. It doesn’t justify Russia’s invasion. A far better approach for Russia might have been to step up diplomacy with Europe and with the non-Western world to explain and oppose U.S. militarism and unilateralism. In fact, the relentless U.S. push to expand NATO is widely opposed throughout the world, so Russian diplomacy rather than war would likely have been effective.

19 May
Russia’s Rogue Commander Is Playing With Fire
Yevgeny Prigozhin has picked a public fight with the Russian military leadership in Ukraine. Why does the Kremlin tolerate him?
By Mikhail Fishman
(The Atlantic) In his videos, Prigozhin refers to Putin as the supreme commander in chief who understands the Wagner Group’s needs and gives orders that would fulfill them. These orders are then sabotaged by the military command.
In other words, Prigozhin is sticking with the lifesaving formula known in Russia as the “good tsar surrounded by bad boyars.” To turn on Putin would be suicide for him: He is waging an unequal fight with the Russian military leadership that has come to look like a fight for his own survival, and in which Putin is his only cover.
Legally, the Wagner Group shouldn’t exist. Russian law holds mercenary activities to be punishable by years in prison. And yet, with Putin’s blessing, the Wagner Group has evolved into a powerful private army with its own heavy weaponry and even its own air force.

16 May
African leaders plan ‘peace mission’ to Russia and Ukraine.
(NYT) South Africa’s president said officials from six nations would visit Kyiv and Moscow as part of the initiative. The time frame remained unclear.
As South Africa faces increasing pressure over its close ties to Russia, the country’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa, said on Tuesday that leaders from six African countries would visit Moscow and Kyiv on a “peace mission” in a bid to end the war in Ukraine.
Mr. Ramaphosa said both President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine welcomed the initiative — which includes Egypt, Zambia, Senegal, Uganda and the Republic of Congo — in separate phone calls over the weekend.

Yes, Russia Is Using Ancient Tanks in Combat in Ukraine. But Not as Tanks.
The surprising resurgence of the Soviet-era T-54 has taken a new twist —supposedly used not so much as tanks, but as armored artillery vehicles firing indirect shells at distant targets.
22-23 March
Russia Sending T-55s to Ukraine?
This tank series formed the backbone of the Warsaw Pact’s armor fleets throughout the Cold War and were built in vast numbers, with it thought that perhaps as many as a 100,000 manufactured by the time its production ended in the 1980s. Because of this the T-54/55 still provides service in large quantities all around the world today, with many users choosing to undertake thorough upgrades to their fleets to keep them viable.
Russia Sending T-55s to Ukraine? (YouTube)
Some footage on social media is sparking speculation that the Russian forces in Ukraine may soon be fighting in museum pieces.

14 May
Wagner chief offered to give Russian troop locations to Ukraine, leak says
Yevgeniy Prigozhin said he would tell Ukraine’s military where to attack Russian troops if it pulled its own forces back from the beleaguered city of Bakhmut, where Wagner mercenaries were taking heavy losses
(WaPo exclusive) Prigozhin said that if Ukraine’s commanders withdrew their soldiers from the area around Bakhmut, he would give Kyiv information on Russian troop positions, which Ukraine could use to attack them. Prigozhin conveyed the proposal to his contacts in Ukraine’s military intelligence directorate, with whom he has maintained secret communications during the course of the war, according to previously unreported U.S. intelligence documents leaked on the group-chat platform Discord.
Two Ukrainian officials confirmed that Prigozhin has spoken several times to the Ukrainian intelligence directorate, known as HUR. One official said that Prigozhin extended the offer regarding Bakhmut more than once, but that Kyiv rejected it because officials don’t trust Prigozhin and thought his proposals could have been disingenuous.
A U.S. official also cautioned that there are similar doubts in Washington about Prigozhin’s intentions. The Ukrainian and U.S. officials spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive information.
But there is no debating Prigozhin’s bitter frustration with the grinding fight in Bakhmut. He has complained, publicly and privately, that the Russian Defense Ministry has not given his fighters the ammunition and other resources they need to succeed. Bakhmut, in eastern Ukraine, has seen some of the bloodiest fighting of the war. Over the past few months, in a grinding back and forth measured by city blocks, Ukrainian and Russian forces have taken steep casualties.

10-13 May
Four Russian military aircraft shot down near Ukraine, Russian daily reports
(Reuters) – The Russian news outlet Kommersant reported that two Russian fighter jets and two military helicopters had been shot down on Saturday close to the Ukrainian border, in what would be a spectacular coup for Kyiv if confirmed.
Kommersant, a respected, independent business-focused daily, said on its website that the Su-34 fighter-bomber, Su-35 fighter and two Mi-8 helicopters had made up a raiding party, and had been “shot down almost simultaneously” in an ambush in the Bryansk region, adjoining northeast Ukraine.
Wagner boss Prigozhin says situation on Russian flanks near Bakhmut is bad
(Reuters) – The head of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group said on Thursday that his forces’ flanks were under pressure near the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, resulting in the loss of ground that his men had captured at heavy cost.
Yevgeny Prigozhin has argued that it is the job of regular Russian forces to protect Wagner’s flanks near Bakhmut, the city at the centre of the longest and bloodiest battle of the war.
Russian brigade seriously damaged, Bakhmut still Moscow’s top target – Kyiv
(Reuters) – Ukraine’s military said on Wednesday its forces had seriously damaged though not destroyed Russia’s 72nd Separate Motor-rifle Brigade near Bakhmut, and that the eastern city remained Moscow’s main target.
Serhiy Cherevatyi, spokesperson for Ukrainian troops in the east, said the situation remained “difficult” in Bakhmut, but that Moscow was increasingly forced to use regular army forces because of heavy losses among the Wagner private army group.

9 May
Russia’s future rests on Ukraine war, Putin tells Victory Day parade
(BBC) Vladimir Putin has said Russia’s future “rests on” the soldiers fighting in Ukraine, during his annual speech to mark Victory Day in Moscow.
The military parade, which commemorates the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany, was scaled back this year for security.
Mr Putin also used his speech to justify his invasion of Ukraine, while accusing “Western globalist elites” of provoking conflicts.
Civilisation is again “at a decisive turning point”, he said in Moscow’s Red Square to a crowd composed of just officials and veterans, as the event was not open to the public.
Addressing the troops fighting in Ukraine – some of whom were present – Mr Putin said a “real war” had been “unleashed” against Russia. The reality is that it was Russia that invaded Ukraine.

5 May
Russia’s Wagner boss threatens Bakhmut pullout in Ukraine
(AP) — The owner of Russia’s Wagner military contractor threatened Friday to withdraw his troops next week from the protracted battle for the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, accusing Moscow’s military command of starving his forces of ammunition.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, a wealthy entrepreneur with longtime links to Russian President Vladimir Putin, claimed that Wagner fighters had planned to capture Bakhmut by May 9, Russia’s Victory Day holiday celebrating the defeat of Nazi Germany. But they were undersupplied and suffering heavy losses, he said, and would hand over operations to the regular army on May 10.
No love lost between Russian military and Wagner mercenaries
(AP) A threat by the owner of private Russian military company Wagner on Friday to withdraw his fighters from the battle to seize an eastern Ukrainian city is another flareup in his dispute with Russia’s regular military over credit and tactics in the war. Here is a look at Wagner’s history and its role in the fighting.

4 May
Explosion over the Kremlin
What does it mean? More of the same from Russia
Timothy Snyder
Two drones and one small explosion were filmed over a tower of one of the Kremlin buildings. Without providing any evidence, or giving any reason why such a thing might be true, Russian authorities blamed Ukraine, claiming that it was an assassination attempt directed against Vladimir Putin.
The Russians have lied about every major event in this war, and have always presented themselves and their president as its victim. So we would be justified in doubting what they say.
Ukrainian authorities deny having anything to do with the drones over the Kremlin. They would have nothing to gain from such an operation, and very much to lose.
My own sense is that the most likely scenario is that Russian state staged the incident as fake justification for war crimes in Ukraine.

1 May
Russia-Ukraine War
A year of bitter and bloody war in Ukraine has devastated the country, further isolated Russia from the West and fueled economic insecurity around the world.
White House Sets Russian Troop Losses at 100,000 Over Last 5 Months
At least 100,000 Russian fighters have been killed or wounded in Ukraine in the past five months, the White House said on Monday, the latest measure of the vast human toll of President Vladimir V. Putin’s invasion.
John Kirby, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said the figure included 20,000 Russian fighters who had been killed in action. About half of those were mercenaries for the Wagner group, the paramilitary force founded by Yevgeny V. Prigozhin that recruited heavily from Russian prisons to bolster its ranks and carry out a brutal campaign around the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut.
Russia missile attack on Ukraine injures 34, damages homes
(AP) Russia launched missiles at Ukraine on early Monday, damaging buildings and wounding at least 34 people in the eastern city of Pavlohrad, but failing to hit Kyiv. In what has become a grinding war of attrition, the fiercest battles have been in the eastern Donetsk region.

21 April
Russian War Report: Russia cancels Victory Day parades and moves “Immortal Regiment” marches online
Russia escalates Avdiivka, Marinka front lines; Belgorod accidentally bombed by a Russian jet
Russia’s Bashkir battalions form a new motor rifle regiment as more are sent to Ukraine to replenish Russian forces
Russian mobilized soldiers report signs of coercion to join Wagner in support of Bakhmut offensive
Russia cancels Victory Day parades and moves “Immortal Regiment” marches online
Pro-Kremlin experts use false story to claim military upper hand over Ukraine and NATO
Wagner members claim killing of Ukrainian civilians

18 April
West prepares for Putin to use ‘whatever tools he’s got left’ in Ukraine
Officials ready for nuclear threats and cyber-attacks as part of Russian response to predicted counter-offensive
Western leaders are preparing for Vladimir Putin to use “whatever tools he’s got left” including nuclear threats and cyber-attacks in response to an expected Ukrainian counter-offensive against Russia.
British officials at the G7 foreign ministers’ summit in Japan said they were expecting Russia to retaliate and “must be prepared” for extreme tactics as it attempted to hold on to Ukrainian territory.
The former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev said last month that Moscow was ready for the Ukrainians to hit back, warning that his country would use “absolutely any weapon” if Kyiv attempted to retake Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in 2014.
Wagner mercenary admits ‘tossing grenades’ at injured Ukrainian PoWs
Former convict tells of torturing troops and says he does ‘not regret a single thing’

13 April
Vladimir Putin may at last be glimpsing victory
Con Coughlin, The Daily Telegraph defence editor
Irrespective of the validity of the information contained in the leaked documents, the Ukraine conflict may be nearing a watershed moment, one where, without Kyiv receiving more support from the West, there is a real risk of the war ultimately turning in Vladimir Putin’s favour.
(The Telegraph UK) … The documents also seem to confirm what many of us have feared since the outset of this terrible conflict: that some Western leaders have little faith in Ukraine’s ability to achieve victory. One document from early February expresses misgivings about the prospects of Ukraine’s forthcoming counter-offensive, warning that problems with generating and sustaining sufficient forces will only result in “modest territorial gains”.
It could be, then, that even Kyiv’s strongest allies believe the Ukrainian conflict is heading for a bloody stalemate. This could embolden those Western leaders who already have reservations about maintaining their support for Ukraine. This could even have an impact on their commitment to sending weaponry and other aid, which will alarm Kyiv because it has been facing crippling shortages. …
These assessments will certainly lend encouragement to Moscow’s forces which, while lacking the means to conduct their own offensives, have succeeded in strengthening their defences. According to the latest British military intelligence reports this week, the Russians have completed the establishment of three new lines of defensive formations along a 75-mile long stretch of the Zaporizhzhia region in eastern Ukraine to protect Crimea from attack.

2 April
Russian pro-war military blogger killed in blast at St Petersburg cafe
Tatarsky was one of the leading voices in the pro-war blogger community. The bloggers, who are frequently former veterans with contacts on the frontlines, often provide a rare insight into Russia’s real performance on the ground and are allowed a surprising amount of leeway to criticise the conduct of the war – although they rarely criticise Putin. In a sign of their growing importance, the Russian president last year established a taskforce to coordinate work between the government and the bloggers. If Tatarsky was deliberately targeted, his death will be the second killing on Russian territory of a prominent pro-war figure.
Prominent Russian military blogger killed in cafe blast: Reports
Explosion in a St Petersburg cafe kills Vladlen Tatarsky, an influential blogger with 560,000 Telegram followers, Russian news agencies say.
Tatarsky is the pen name for Maxim Fomin, who had accumulated more than 560,000 followers on Telegram and was one of the most prominent of the influential military bloggers who have provided an often critical running commentary on Russia’s war in Ukraine.
A St Petersburg website said the explosion took place at a cafe that had at one time belonged to Yevgeny Prigozhin, founder of the Wagner Group of mercenaries fighting for Russia in Ukraine.

29 March
Ukraine’s Zelenskyy is ‘ready’ for Chinese leader to visit
(AP) — Ukraine’s president invited his powerful Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, to visit his nation, saying they haven’t been in contact since the war began and he is “ready to see him here.”
“I want to speak with him,” Volodymyr Zelenskyy told The Associated Press on Tuesday, the week after Xi visited Russian President Vladimir Putin last week. China had no immediate response about whether a Xi visit to Ukraine would happen.
China has been economically aligned and politically favorable toward neighboring Russia across many decades, and Beijing has provided Putin diplomatic cover by staking out an official position of neutrality in the war. Xi, a powerful leader who commands the resources of the world’s most populous nation, is an important player in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, and even China’s lack of involvement is a potent statement.

22 March
Russia hits Ukraine with missiles, drones as ‘dear friend’ Xi departs
(Reuters) – Russia blasted an apartment block in Ukraine with missiles on Wednesday and swarmed cities with drone attacks overnight, in a display of force as President Vladimir Putin bid farewell to his visiting “dear friend” and Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

Ecumenical patriarch: Russian Church shares blame for ‘crimes’ in Ukraine
Bartholomew is spiritual head of worldwide Orthodox Church
Says ready to help ‘spiritual regeneration’ of Russia, Ukraine
He angered Moscow by recognising separate Ukraine Church
(Reuters) – The spiritual head of the world’s Orthodox Christians said on Wednesday that Russia’s powerful Orthodox Church shared responsibility for the conflict in Ukraine but that he stood ready to help in Russia’s postwar “spiritual regeneration”.
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew’s comments are a rebuke for Russian Patriarch Kirill, whose full-throated blessing for Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine has splintered the worldwide Orthodox Church.
The Ecumenical Patriarch is based in Istanbul and is viewed as “first among equals” in the Orthodox Church, which has some 260 million followers worldwide, around 100 million of them in Russia.

21 March
Xi invites Putin to China in show of support as Moscow talks continue
Chinese and Russian leaders to discuss Ukraine in formal talks after friendly dinner, while Fumio Kishida meets Volodymyr Zelenskiy in Kyiv
Xi and Putin sign agreements as Japan’s leader visits Ukraine
Putin praises Chinese proposal on peace in Ukraine, but no sign of progress
Putin, Xi agree on expanding natural gas trade, other economic ties
Visit by Japan’s Kishida to Kyiv gives sharp contrast to Xi in Russia
(WaPo) Chinese leader Xi Jinping met with Russian President Vladimir Putin for some three hours of formal talks at the Kremlin on Tuesday, the second day of a three-day visit. The leaders signed two agreements, one affirming their partnership and one setting out plans for economic cooperation, which they discussed at a joint news conference. … They did not announce any major progress toward peace in Ukraine.

Xi Seeks Tighter Cooperation With Russia at Kremlin Talks
Xi Jinping promised to strengthen coordination with Russia at a Kremlin summit with President Vladimir Putin on the Chinese leader’s first visit to Moscow since the beginning of Russia’s assault on Ukraine.
(Moscow Times) Both nations seek allies to counteract Western power and the two are expected to sign a raft of economic cooperation agreements.
Putin called the talks “meaningful and frank” and said that Russia, which has been largely cut out of European markets because of sanctions, would be able to meet China’s “growing demand” for energy.

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