Putin’s War Russia-Ukraine January 2024-

Written by  //  July 9, 2024  //  Russia, Ukraine  //  No comments

At Ukraine’s Largest Children’s Hospital, a Horrific Scene of Destruction
Families and patients were not unfamiliar with the sound of missiles flying overhead. But the Russian assault on the hospital marked one of the worst days of violence against civilians in months.
(NYT) No children were killed at the hospital on Monday, but its destruction marked one of the worst days of violence against Ukrainian civilians in months, with more than 30 people killed in Kyiv alone. The Russian assault on Monday targeted the capital and cities throughout the country.
Rage as Putin bombs a children’s hospital in Kyiv, but know there is a way to try him for his crimes
Gordon Brown
The lives of children are too easily forgotten. But the Council of Europe has a plan to hold the Kremlin to account
This week’s bombing of the main children’s hospital in the heart of Kyiv is the latest and most gruesome reminder of Vladimir Putin’s war crimes. They cannot go unpunished. Nato’s summit in Washington DC is the right moment not just to recommit to the defence of Ukraine, but also to deepen and hasten the inquiry of the international criminal court (ICC) into Russian atrocities.
The casualties from the attack that flattened much of the Okhmatdyt hospital include children undergoing transplants and those who have cancer and kidney disease. TV footage has shown sick children amid the ruins, linked up to IV drips, awaiting evacuation. Their suffering came in a brutal day of multiple attacks across Ukraine in which at least 41 people were killed and 166 injured.

24 June
Russia-Ukraine reality check (video and transcript)
Ian Bremmer
the problem is that a lot of the uncertainty about Ukraine isn’t only about what Russia does, isn’t only about Ukrainian capacity, but it’s also keeping that multilateral effort, which has been strong and united together. And there have been a couple of almost misses, especially the US, the six months getting them $61 billion, but also coming up with the electoral cycles. And the longer you push that out, the more dangerous it is for Ukraine and ultimately for the NATO alliance. So that’s a little bit of the sort of real talk about what’s happening in Russia and Ukraine on the back of the news of the past week. As always, what you want to happen is not the same as analysis.
… the reality is Russia is the largest country in the world geographically and within that territory. They have an awful lot of very important natural resources. They’ve got oil, they’ve got gas, they’ve got platinum, they’ve got diamonds, they’ve got uranium, they’ve got food, they’ve got fertilizer. And the United States and Europe, if they were so concerned about the war in Ukraine that they were truly willing to cut that off, they could. But it would cost them.
It would cost them because the world would be in a global recession out of not getting that oil and gas. It would cost them because a lot of the nuclear plants in the West wouldn’t have uranium, and the prices would go way up. And they don’t want to spend that money. And it would cost them because a lot of people in the Global South would starve, because they wouldn’t have access to the food and fertilizer, except at a higher cost that they can’t afford to pay. And the West isn’t willing to pay that cost to take that risk and to squeeze the Russians that hard. They’re willing to make the Russians less profitable in terms of the oil and gas they sell. They’re willing to freeze and even increasingly seize hundreds of billions in Russian assets and use that to fund the Ukrainians, because it’s better than having to pay for the Ukrainians yourself.

23 June
Ukraine: “We Have Provoked This War”
By Gwynne Dyer
There is one thing almost all populist nationalists agree on: the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022 and the continuing carnage there was the fault of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. If NATO had not expanded to Russia’s borders, it would all still be peace and love in Europe.
The latest far-right figure to make this claim is Nigel Farage. … “It was obvious to me that the ever-eastward expansion of NATO and the European Union was giving (President Vladimir Putin) a reason to say to his Russian people ‘They’re coming for us again’ and to go to war,” Farage said last Friday. “We provoked this war.”
… We could find many similar statements from other far-right luminaries like Marine Le Pen in France and Viktor Orbán in Hungary, but let’s just focus on the actual claim.
What they are all saying, in essence, is that Russia faced a real military threat when nine newly independent countries in Eastern Europe that it had conquered either in 1940 (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania) or in 1945 (Poland, Czechia, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria) were allowed to join the Western alliance.

18-20 June
Mutual defense pact between North Korea and Russia raises new questions, but it’s far from unique
(AP) Experts note that the language is almost identical to that of a previous mutual defense pact from 1961 between the Soviet Union and North Korea, which was never put to the test.
Such pacts are not uncommon and are rarely invoked, while often being touted as a means of deterring aggression, though the agreement between the two unpredictable and autocratic leaders of nuclear nations immediately raised concerns globally.
North Korea’s Kim declares ‘full support’ for Russian war in Ukraine
Russian President Vladimir Putin, looking for diplomatic and military support, signed a ‘comprehensive’ agreement with Kim Jong Un during a rare visit to Pyongyang.
(WaPo) Shunned by the West over his invasion of Ukraine, Putin is seeking partners who share his anti-Western stance, including China, Iran and North Korea. Kim extolled the “firm alliance” with Moscow and openly backed Putin’s war against Ukraine, the strongest support for Russia’s invasion from any foreign leader.

17 June
The war between Russia and Ukraine is set to grind on as a diplomatic conference packs little punch
(AP) — Russia and Ukraine are set to remain locked in battle for the foreseeable future after an international gathering billed as a first step toward peace delivered no eye-catching diplomatic breakthrough that might suggest a coming end to Europe’s biggest conflict since World War II.
The absence of Russia and China from the two-day conference in Switzerland on the weekend and the decision by some key countries — including India, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Mexico — not to sign the meeting’s final document Sunday meant that the gathering had little to show beyond some goodwill and pledges to keep working for peace after more than two years of war.
Meanwhile Ukraine, after being starved of ammunition due to late deliveries of promised Western military aid, is trying to hold on against a Russian onslaught in eastern parts of the country until its prospects improve.
Nearly 80 countries approved the final communique covering steps toward nuclear safety, food security, and the release of prisoners and deportees, including thousands of children abducted by Russia.
It did not resolve the bedrock — and seemingly intractable, for now — issue: Ukrainian land occupied by invading Russian forces.

Putin praises North Korea for Ukraine support ahead of visit to Pyongyang
Russian leader will have talks with Kim Jong-un with shared aim of expanding security and economic cooperation

14 June
Putin vows to order cease-fire and negotiate if Ukraine exits occupied areas and drops NATO bid
(AP) Russian President Vladimir Putin promised Friday to “immediately” order a cease-fire in Ukraine and begin negotiations if Kyiv started withdrawing troops from the four regions annexed by Moscow in 2022 and renounced plans to join NATO. Such a deal appears a nonstarter for Kyiv, which wants to join the military alliance and has demanded that Russia withdraw its troops from all of its territory.

12 June
How to Convince Putin He Will Lose
The West Must Show That It Can Outlast Russia in Ukraine
By Dan Altman
(Foreign Affairs) To end the war on acceptable terms….Western strategy should not be based solely on determining Ukraine’s immediate need for weapons. A focus on the present is understandable as Ukraine fights to hold back Russian forces on multiple fronts, but it will never be sufficient. If Russia’s leaders believe that they will win in the end, then they will keep fighting. Reshaping Moscow’s long-term calculus is as important as winning today’s battles. Changing that calculus requires making investments to expand weapons and munitions manufacturing that are large enough to convince Moscow that the West will outproduce Russia in the years to come. The objective is to make Russian leaders fear a long war. That fear is vital to avoiding one.

2 June
In Crimea, Ukraine is beating Russia
The peninsula is becoming a death trap for the Kremlin’s forces
(The Economist) The approval in April of the Biden administration’s $61bn military-support package, after six months of Congressional delay, is having an impact. In particular, the arrival of ATACMS ballistic missiles, with a range of 300km, means that Ukraine can now hit any target in Russian-occupied Crimea, with deadly effect. As a result, says a former commander of American forces in Europe, the Ukrainians are in the process of making Ukraine “uninhabitable” for Russian forces. Crimea was supposed to be Vladimir Putin’s “unsinkable aircraft-carrier”. It is becoming a strategic liability.
In the past week, the Russian offensive in the north-east against Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second city, also appears to have lost momentum.

27 May
Is Russia winning the war in Ukraine?
GZERO Staff
What would Ukraine’s defeat look like? Over two years into this bloody conflict, Russia has never been as close to victory as it is today. “When the history of this war is written,” former US Ambassador to NATO Ivo Daalder tells Ian Bremmer, “I think we’ll look back on the last six months as really… the turning point.” Daalder joins Bremmer on the latest episode of GZERO World from Tallinn, Estonia, just a couple hundred miles from the Russian border.
“We need to start having a conversation about how serious this is, and are we going to accept this?” In a sobering and wide-ranging interview, Daalder outlines Russia’s advantage on the battlefield today. “They just have more people, they have more guns, and importantly, it looks like they have more and better morale, which makes them willing to do things that otherwise people aren’t willing to do.”
How much is this battlefield mismatch due to a delay in US support? A big part of it, says Daalder. “Congress refusing to act on the requests that the president first made back in July…and nothing happening until mid-April” was a major blow to Ukraine’s defenses, Daalder says. “And now it just takes time to get stuff to the front and get it across the border and to the units in the quantities to make it happen.”
Is it too late for the West to help Ukraine ward off total defeat? And what would lasting peace, as remote as it might seem now, look like?

24 May
Ian [Bremmer] Explains: Putin’s Ukraine gamble
Ian Bremmer examines the state of the battlefield in Ukraine and unpacks how Russia has been able to take territory in recent weeks at a faster clip than at any point during the war. In a sign of just how badly the situation is deteriorating, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky abruptly canceled all international trips to focus on the Russian offensive, a huge problem for a leader who needs to lobby governments for military and economic aid individually.
All eyes will be on this year’s NATO Summit in Washington, DC, where Western leaders are trying to lock in as many security guarantees for Kyiv as possible ahead of the alliance’s 75th anniversary. The problem is that they don’t have much time to figure it out.

23 May
Russia’s Psychological Warfare Against Ukraine
“There is a battle going on between two worldviews, but the divisions aren’t geographical. They’re in people’s heads.”
By Kevin Townsend
After months of struggle with little movement, the war in Ukraine may be nearing a crucial point. The fight has not been going well for Ukraine. With American aid stalled, tired fighters on the front lines faced ammunition shortages just as Russia brought new sources of recruits and weapons online.
But although painfully delayed, military support from the United States is on its way. The aid package passed in April is the first since Republicans took control of the House of Representatives more than a year ago, but it’s also the largest yet. Now the question is: Will it make a difference in time?
Anne Applebaum joins host Hanna Rosin on Radio Atlantic to discuss the state of the war and how the fight extends well beyond the battlefield itself.
According to Applebaum, the psychological toll Ukraine faced from the aid holdup is only the beginning. Russia may not be able to occupy Ukraine’s cities, but it can wage a kind of psychological warfare to make them unlivable.
She also describes an information war Russia has brought much closer to home for Americans. Her June cover story in The Atlantic chronicles the “new propaganda war” that Russia, China, and other illiberal states are waging on the democratic world, and how that war can shape the fate of Ukraine.
Seven dead in Russian strikes on Kharkiv as Kyiv pleads for weapons

22 May
Russia-Ukraine war: List of key events, day 817</a>
(Al Jazeera) President Zelenskyy said his country’s troops are achieving “tangible” results against Russian forces in the northeastern Kharkiv region but the situation on the eastern front near the cities of Pokrovsk, Kramatorsk and Kurakhove was “extremely difficult”.
Ukraine’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba urged the country’s allies to consider shooting down Russian missiles over Ukrainian territory to better protect its cities from Russian aerial attacks. Kuleba, who was speaking alongside visiting German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, said Ukraine’s Western backers should not see such a step as “escalatory”.
Baerbock, on her eighth visit to Kyiv since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, acknowledged the situation on the front had “dramatically deteriorated”, and that Ukraine needed air defence as an “absolute priority” amid continuing Russian drone, rocket and missile attacks.

20 May
Ukraine’s Zelenskiy pushes allies to step up aid and involvement in war
By Mike Collett-White, Dan Peleschuk and Sergiy Karazy
Zelenskiy speaks on fifth anniversary of inauguration
Ukrainian leader chastises West for slow military aid
He also pushes them to get more directly involved in war
Leader concedes that war is “difficult” amid Russian advances
He urges China to join peace summit in Switzerland in June
(Reuters) – Western allies are taking too long to make key decisions on military support for Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy told Reuters in an exclusive interview on Monday.
He also said he was pushing partners to get more directly involved in the war by helping to intercept Russian missiles over Ukraine and allowing Kyiv to use Western weapons against enemy military equipment amassing near the border.
The call to accelerate aid and push so-called “red lines” of engagement in the conflict reflect the growing pressure Zelenskiy’s forces are under along more than 1,000 km of front lines in the northeast, east and south of the country.
An impassioned Zelenskiy, dressed in his familiar khaki T-shirt and trousers, said the situation on the battlefield was “one of the most difficult” he had known since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022.

13 May
In surprise Ukraine visit, Blinken declares vision for Kyiv’s victory
In the first high-level U.S. trip since Congress approved a major aid package, the top diplomat pushes for reforms he says will help bolster Ukraine against Russia.
(WaPo) In an unusually sweeping address for the chief U.S. diplomat, Blinken called for a long-term plan to further enhance the country’s war machine so it would be better able to resist the Kremlin on its own, and for anti-corruption efforts and other reforms that Ukraine has struggled with ever since it broke from the Soviet Union in 1991.
Blinken’s unannounced two-day trip was the first high-level visit by a Biden administration official since Congress last month approved a $61 billion aid package for Ukraine after seven months of obstruction by some Republicans. The visit was intended as a show of solidarity as the Pentagon speeds delivery of air defenses, artillery and other combat equipment in a bid to stabilize Kyiv’s military — and as Ukraine contends with the possibility that it may never regain all the territory it has lost to Russia.

Putin backs China’s Ukraine peace plan, says Beijing understands the conflict
(Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin, in an interview published early on Wednesday, said he backed China’s plan for a peaceful settlement of the Ukraine crisis, saying Beijing had a full understanding of what lay behind the crisis.

24 April
Ukraine drone attacks spark fires at western Russia oil depot
(CBC) With Russia’s full-scale invasion in its third year, Ukraine has increasingly focused on targeting Russian oil and energy facilities with long-range drones.
Kyiv considers oil refineries as legitimate targets, despite calls from allies led by the U.S. to halt strikes in order to avoid Russian retaliation and hikes in global oil prices.
As of the end of March, around 14 per cent of Russia’s primary oil refining capacity had been knocked out by Ukrainian drone attacks, according to Reuters calculations.
Energy grid attacks have been a feature of the two-year-war, with Russia by March 2022 having gained control of the Zaporizhzhia plant in southeastern Ukraine, Europe’s largest nuclear power plant.
This year, Russia has stepped up combined missile and drone strikes targeting Ukraine’s grid system since mid-March.

16-17 April
Leading Russia Watcher in China Makes Surprise Ukraine War Prediction
Chinese specialist on Russia has delivered a grim forecast for Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine: that it is doomed to fail.
(Newsweek) Peking University professor Feng Yujun is also cooling on the future of Beijing-Moscow relations, writing in a recent op-ed in The Economist that the two nations have diverging visions of the future of global affairs.
… Feng presented four major factors that he believes will “make Russia’s eventual defeat inevitable.”
First on the list is the “level of resistance and national unity shown by Ukrainians, which has until now been extraordinary.”
The second factor is the international support for Kyiv, which the academic said “remains broad,” though he acknowledged the administration of President Volodymyr Zelensky finds it wanting.
The third factor at play is the “nature of modern warfare,” according to Feng, who described this as a combination of “industrial might and command, control, communications and intelligence systems.”
Russia’s war machine is at a disadvantage here, Feng said, because the country never fully recovered from the “dramatic deindustrialization” that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Russia’s fourth critical deficit is a lack of information among Kremlin decision-makers at the highest levels, Feng said. Trapped inside an “information cocoon,” Putin and his national security advisers don’t have ready access to accurate intelligence, limiting their capacity to fix mistakes.

15-16 April
Ukraine waits for help as Russia advances
(GZERO media) Oleksandr Syrskyi, Ukraine’s top general, has issued a stark warning: The battlefield situation in Ukraine’s east has “significantly worsened” in recent days. Russian forces outnumber and outgun Ukrainian defenders, the grinding battles over cities like Bakhmut and Avdiivka are expanding to other towns in the Donetsk region, and Ukraine’s depleted air defenses leave its cities increasingly vulnerable to Russian attack.
Slow but steady gains come at great cost to Russian lives and equipment – both sides have seen tens of thousands of soldiers killed and hundreds of thousands wounded – but Russia has deeper reserves of both men and munitions.
Ukraine, watching U.S. coalition protect Israel, feels alone
(WaPo) For more than two years, Ukraine has faced Russian missile and drone attacks, often including Iranian-made Shahed drones like the ones Tehran used on Saturday. As a shield, Ukraine relies on a hodgepodge of air defense systems provided by Western partners, including three U.S.-designed Patriot batteries manned by Ukrainian troops. This month, the biggest power station serving Kyiv was destroyed. Civilian casualties are common.
Last week alone, Russia launched nearly 130 Shahed drones, 80 missiles and 700 guided aerial bombs at Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly address on Sunday. Ukraine relied on its own troops and its dwindling supplies of ammunition. But the immediate international response to Iran’s attack on Israel proved that modern air defense can save lives and that such defense is possible, Zelensky said.

12 April
Russian troops advance in Ukraine as Kyiv runs low on air defenses
Ukraine’s situation on the battlefield has deteriorated while Republicans in Congress, for more than six months, have blocked a $60 billion aid package proposed by President Biden.
(WaPo) As Ukrainian officials plead for more Western arms and a U.S. aid package remains stalled in Congress, Russia is advancing on the battlefield in eastern Ukraine, seizing new territory and intensifying attacks to capture the town of Chasiv Yar and others in the Donetsk region.
Away from the front line, Ukraine’s dwindling air defense capabilities are showing vulnerabilities, as more Russian missiles and drones are able to hit targets such as critical infrastructure facilities.
Outside Kyiv — considered Ukraine’s best-protected city — the largest power plant serving the capital was destroyed Thursday, stoking concerns that Ukraine might be running out of surface-to-air missiles to counter the Russian airstrikes.
“We need air defense systems and other defense assistance, not just turning a blind eye and having lengthy discussions,” President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

Heather Cox Richardson: March 29, 2024
…the strategy that matters most for the Kremlin is not the military strategy, but rather the spread of disinformation that causes the West to back away and allow Russia to win.
On Wednesday the nonprofit, nonpartisan Institute for the Study of War published a long essay explaining that Russia’s only strategy for success in Ukraine is to win the disinformation war in which it is engaged. While the piece by Nataliya Bugayova and Frederick W. Kagan, with Katryna Stepanenko, focused on Russia’s war against Ukraine, the point it makes about Russia’s information operation against Western countries applies more widely.
The authors note that the countries allied behind Ukraine dwarf Russia, with relative gross domestic products of $63 trillion and $1.9 trillion, respectively, while those countries allied with Russia are not mobilizing to help Russian president Vladimir Putin. Russia cannot defeat Ukraine or the West, they write, if the West mobilizes its resources.
This means that That disinformation operation echoes the Russian practice of getting a population to believe in a false reality so that voters will cast their ballots for the party of oligarchs. In this case, in addition to seeding the idea that Ukraine cannot win and that the Russian invasion was justified, the Kremlin is exploiting divisions already roiling U.S. politics.

24-27 March
Ukraine war briefing: ‘Third of Russia’s Black Sea fleet sunk or crippled’
Poland warns Russian missiles coming too close may be shot down; how Ukraine has ramped up making its own weapons.
Ukraine’s navy claims it has sunk or disabled a third of all Russian warships in the Black Sea in just over two years of war. Dmytro Pletenchuk from the navy said the latest strike on Saturday night hit the Russian amphibious landing ship Kostiantyn Olshansky, which was resting in dock in Sevastopol in Russia-occupied Crimea. The ship was Ukrainian before being captured by Russia in 2014.
Another major missile barrage batters Ukraine; Kyiv hits two Russian ships in Crimea
One Russian cruise missile violated Poland’s airspace, prompting the NATO member to scramble F-16 jets.
Moscow launched a huge attack with missiles and drones on Ukraine’s capital of Kyiv and the western region of Lviv on Sunday, Ukrainian officials said.
At the same time, Ukraine said it hit two Russian landing ships, a communications center and other infrastructure used by Russia’s Black Sea fleet in Crimea. The Yamal and Azov ships were damaged, Ukrainian officials said, according to media reports.
Russia unleashed 57 Russian missiles and drones on Ukraine early Sunday in the Kremlin’s third large missile attack in the past four days, and the second to target the capital. Ukraine’s air force destroyed 18 out of 29 missiles and 25 out of 28 attack drones, it said on Telegram.

13-16 March
Russian border region closes malls and schools as Ukrainian attacks escalate
(CNN)… The frequent attacks have brought the war in Ukraine to Russians largely isolated from the conflict.
Ukraine’s Spy Chief Kyrylo Budanov said Saturday that Russians are among the sabotage groups attacking the Russian regions of Belgorod and Kursk, which borders Ukraine.
Ukraine hits oil refineries deep inside Russian territory, as Kyiv steps up drone attacks before Putin’s likely re-election
Ukraine has launched drone attacks on at least three oil refineries deep inside Russia, as Kyiv intensifies its cross-border strikes days before President Vladimir Putin’s anticipated re-election.
A Ukrainian defense source told CNN on Wednesday that Ukraine is “implementing a well-planned strategy to decrease Russian economic potential.”
It struck three Russian oil refineries targeted in the cities of Ryazan, about 130 miles southeast of Moscow; Kstovo, in the Nizhny Novgorod region, nearly 300 miles east of the capital; and Kirishi in Russia’s northwest. The trio of facilities are among Russia’s largest refineries, the source said.

29 February
Putin threatens nuclear response to NATO troops if they go to Ukraine
(WaPo) Russian President Vladimir Putin used his annual State of the Nation address on Thursday to take aim at the West, threatening to use nuclear weapons against NATO countries if they send forces to help defend Ukraine from a Russian victory.
In a speech to Russia’s Federal Assembly that was predominantly dedicated to Russia’s domestic affairs, Putin delivered a tough warning, threatening retaliatory strikes against the West in the event of attacks on Russian territory.
Putin warns that sending Western troops to Ukraine risks a global nuclear war
(AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed Thursday to fulfill Moscow’s goals in Ukraine and sternly warned the West against deeper involvement in the fighting, saying that such a move is fraught with the risk of a global nuclear conflict.
Putin’s blunt warning came in a state-of-the-nation address ahead of next month’s election he’s all but certain to win, underlining his readiness to raise the stakes in the tug-of-war with the West to protect the Russian gains in Ukraine.
In an apparent reference to French President Emmanuel Macron’s statement earlier this week that the future deployment of Western ground troops to Ukraine should not be “ruled out”, Putin warned that it would lead to “tragic” consequences for the countries who decide to do that.

28 February
How to put Russia’s frozen assets to work for Ukraine
Don’t seize them. But do exploit them to the full
(The Economist) With America’s House of Representatives denying aid for Ukraine, other Western politicians are hunting for an alternative source of funds. Their eyes have settled on assets worth €260bn ($282bn) belonging to Russia that have been frozen since its full-scale invasion two years ago. On February 27th Janet Yellen, America’s treasury secretary, called for “[unlocking] the value” of these assets. There is a growing clamour in support of the moral and practical case for using this money to help pay for Ukraine’s defence. But most of the portfolio sits in Belgium, and the European Union has been divided about the wisdom—and legality—of putting it to use.
Those who want to do something with the money are right, but how it is done matters greatly. Seizing the assets outright would be a mistake. Sanctions have historically come with the caveat that if an aggressor like Russia changes its behaviour, it can get its money back. Reparations are typically negotiated with a defeated state after hostilities have ceased, not imposed and enforced while bullets are flying. Taking the money would add to the view, already common in the global south, that America and its allies hew to international law only when it suits them. Because the West’s case against Russia’s invasion is that it is illegal, this smacks of hypocrisy.

28 February
Russia seizes more villages in Ukraine, raising fears of growing momentum
After taking the strategic northeast Ukrainian town of Avdiivka two weeks ago, Russian forces have seized three more villages in the past few days, suggesting a growing momentum in their advance even as Western officials warn of the ammunition shortages Kyiv’s military is facing.
Russia’s Defense Ministry announced Wednesday that its troops had taken the village of Stepove, seven miles northwest of Avdiivka. Ukrainian officials said the previous day that Kyiv’s forces had pulled back from Stepove and the neighboring village of Sieverne.
Ukrainian forces also withdrew from the village of Lastochkyne “to organize defenses” along a new line of settlements, “aiming to prevent further enemy advancement to the west,” Dmytro Lykhoviy, a military spokesman, said Monday on Ukrainian television.

23 February
Does the West’s Ukraine policy need a reality check? A Brookings debate
As the second anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine draws near, the outlook appears bleak: both sides have sustained horrific losses, millions of Ukrainians remain displaced or in exile, and there is no plausible sign of an end to the violence. Western capitals are struggling to supply funds and ammunition to Kyiv, while the Kremlin seemingly draws on limitless supplies and political support from authoritarian allies and continues to pound Ukrainian cities to rubble. Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential candidate, says he would “encourage [Russia] to do whatever the hell they want” to NATO allies that spend insufficiently on defense, while Russian President Vladimir Putin threatens Poland and the Baltics in an interview with Tucker Carlson.
Six Brookings scholars (Aslı Aydıntaşbaş, Michael E. O’Hanlon, Steven Pifer, Melanie W. Sisson, Angela Stent, and Tara Varma) debate the questions Ukraine and its supporters now face:
Is Russia winning its war against Ukraine? Should the United States and its allies push Ukraine to negotiate with Russia?
How can the United States and its allies best ensure security and stability in Ukraine and Europe? Should NATO take further steps toward Ukrainian membership at its 75th-anniversary summit in Washington in July?
What concrete steps should the United States and Europe take in 2024 to prevent a Ukrainian defeat? What would the consequences of a Russian victory be for the trans-Atlantic alliance?
…the authors disagree with each other, and some of the disagreements remain unresolved. But the one thing we all agree on is: rarely in living memory has so much been at stake, not just for Ukraine, but for Europe and the Western alliance. And, arguably, for Russia too.

Russia-Ukraine: Two Years of War
It’s been two years since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022, and the war is still raging. GZERO looks back at the pivotal moments of the past 24 months. …
Yes, Vladimir Putin is winning.
He just needs to do one thing: wait.
The way things are headed now, it’s not unreasonable for him to assume that, before long, Ukraine will suffer a deficit not only of men, money, and materiel, but also morale. That will open the way to further gains that can force Kyiv and its Western backers to accept Putin’s terms.
Counterpoint: Russia is winning? Winning what?
Western press coverage of Ukraine’s war has shifted. Today, there are few stories about determined, resourceful Ukrainian fighters pushing back Russian invaders and regaining lost ground. Most current coverage focuses on Ukraine’s exhaustion, its wavering Western backers, and Vladimir Putin’s recent swagger.
Yes, as my friend Alex Kliment noted yesterday, Ukraine’s future is genuinely uncertain. Its material losses are far heavier than Russia’s, mainly because the war has been fought almost entirely on Ukrainian land. Damage to its trade and infrastructure shrank Ukraine’s economy by 29.1% in 2022 before the return home of some of the country’s millions of refugees brought a modest rebound last year. EU membership remains a distant dream.
Russia’s economy has notably strengthened. This country of 140 million people (Ukraine now has fewer than 40 million) has far more young men to push to the front, more industrial capacity, and far more natural resources to sell to finance the carnage. Its troops are deeply dug in to defend the 18% of Ukrainian territory they still hold.
Since Feb. 24, 2022, the moment two years ago tomorrow when Russian troops began their ill-fated march on Ukraine’s capital with dress uniforms in their packs for the impending parade of conquerors through Kyiv’s streets, Kremlin plans have gone badly off track.
NATO has grown stronger over the past two years, particularly with the addition of Finland and (soon) Sweden, and the alliance wouldn’t be easy to take apart even if Trump can reclaim the White House.
Russia and China are not friends on equal footing. China’s economy and population are nine times larger. Russia is very much the junior partner, and China has never recognized Russia’s claim on the Ukrainian land it seized 10 years ago, much less the gains from its current invasion.
Russia’s military has shown the world exactly what it can and cannot do. Hundreds of thousands of Russians have been killed or wounded to achieve a stalemate. The material losses will take years, maybe decades, to replace. Russian leaders remain determined to hide the horrible costs of this war from Russia’s people, even as they celebrate the costly (re)capture of the burned-out Ukrainian town of Avdiivka.
After the invasion, nearly a million Russians fled their country in search of a brighter future, exacerbating the country’s long-term demographic crisis.
The loss of Russia’s best energy market in Europe has forced it to sell its natural wealth, the most valuable products it produces, at cut-rate prices to the East. European customers may never return, no matter what happens in Ukraine.
War spending, which will account for a stunning one-third of Russia’s government spending in 2024, won’t long outlive the fighting’s active phase. Given the disturbing stagnation in the rest of Russia’s economy, the economic hangover, once Russia needs fewer weapons, might well be severe.
Over time, oil and gas, which now make up more than one-third of government revenue, will lose much of their current value as green energy becomes cheaper and more widely available. (Even the Saudis know economies must modernize through diversification.)
In short, those who rule Russia have no credible blueprint for an innovative and dynamic 21st-century Russian economy that creates opportunity and prosperity to keep its best and brightest at home. That’s the true basis of lasting power.

19 February
Russia says it has crushed the last pocket of resistance in Avdiivka to complete the city’s capture
(AP) — Russian forces have completed their takeover of Avdiivka by eliminating the last pocket of resistance at the eastern Ukraine city’s huge coke plant, the Russian military said Monday, after the sheer weight of its troop numbers and greater air and artillery firepower drove out Kyiv’s forces.
Moscow officials announced Saturday said they had taken control of Avdiivka. Ukrainian forces confirmed pulling out of the bombed-out city in what amounted to a triumph for the Kremlin even though the four-month battle was costly.
The victory was a morale boost for Russia, days ahead of the two-year anniversary of its full-scale invasion of its neighbor on Feb. 24 2022. For Ukraine, the rout was a bleak reminder of its reliance on the supply of Western weapons and ammunition, as hold-ups in the delivery of expected aid have left it short of provisions and handicapped in the fight.

8 February
If Russia Wins
By Tom Nichols
The world, should Russia win, will face remarkable new dangers—and for what? Because in 2024 some astonishingly venal and ambitious politicians wanted to hedge their bets and kiss Trump’s ring one more time? Perhaps enough Republicans will come to their senses in time to avert these possible outcomes. If they do not, future historians—that is, if anyone is left to record what happened—will be perplexed at how a small coterie of American politicians were so willing to trade the safety of the planet for a few more years of power.
(The Atlantic) Ukrainian defenses are in danger of being destroyed and overrun because House Republicans refuse to provide ammunition and aid. If Russia wins this war, the consequences could be catastrophic.
Ukraine is fighting for the lives of its people and its very existence, and it is running out of ammunition. If the United States does not step back in with aid, Russia could eventually win this war.
Despite the twaddle from propagandists in Moscow (and a few academics in the United States), Russia’s war is not about NATO, or borders, or the balance of power. The Russian dictator Vladimir Putin intends to absorb Ukraine into a new Russian empire, and he will eradicate the Ukrainians if they refuse to accept his rule. Europe is in the midst of the largest war on the continent since Nazi panzers rolled from Norway to Greece, and the Russian invasion of Ukraine is by far the most important threat to world peace since the worst days of the Cold War. In a less febrile political era, defeating Russia would be the top priority of every American politician.
The Republicans in Congress, however, remain fixated both on their hatred of Ukraine and on their affection for Russia. Their relentless criticism of assistance to Kyiv has had its intended effect, taking a bite out of the American public’s support for continuing aid, especially as the war has been crowded out by the torrent of more recent news, including Donald Trump’s endless legal troubles and Israel’s campaign in Gaza.

2 February
The Information War: Russia-Ukraine Conflict Through the Eyes Of Social Media
Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine has ushered in a wave of information politics to sway public opinion through the digital space. While Ukraine may have the footage of an ongoing invasion to prove its moral high ground, Russian Misinformation, Disinformation, and Malinformation (MDM) efforts across social media, as well as its continued reliance on compassion fatigue, cannot be discounted.
Magdalene Karalis, Academy Associate with the Russia-Eurasia Program at Chatham House. Her research specializes in disinformation in the digital battlespace, the benefits and pitfalls of online investigations, and the growing ways in which social media and its resulting technology play a defining role in violent conflicts.
(Georgetown Journal of International Affairs (GJIA)) …nowhere is the digital battlespace more prevalent than in the war of information. Both Russia and Ukraine have used every tool available to them and employed distinct tactics to shape public perceptions as the war continues.

28 January – 1 February
Ukraine sinks Russian warship in Black Sea drone strike
Ukrainian sea drones have sunk a Russian warship in the Black Sea in the most successful attack of its kind to date.
(Yahoo!) Footage captured by the drones shows them navigating choppy waters as they home in on the Ivanovets, a Tarantul-class missile corvette, while Russian sailors respond with a hail of bullets. The sea drones strike the ship’s hull multiple times, causing heavy damage which eventually sinks the Ivanovets.
Russia is losing the battle for the Black Sea
(The Economist) Ukraine wants to keep trade flowing and destroy Russia’s fleet

22 January
Ukraine Is Losing the Drone War
How Kyiv Can Close the Innovation Gap With Russia
By Eric Schmidt
(Foreign Affairs) When I visited Kyiv in December, the government officials and military officers I talked to shared their fear that Russian President Vladimir Putin would announce a second round of mass conscription and a major offensive in eastern Ukraine after Russia’s election in March. Russia’s resilient war economy, expanded materiel production, and population edge, combined with uncertainty about the West’s continued support of Ukraine—especially in a U.S. election year—give Putin reason to double down. Meanwhile, the home-field advantage that Ukraine enjoyed in the early days of the invasion has eroded. Russian troops have settled in on Ukrainian soil and littered eastern Ukraine with land mines, which injure and kill Ukrainian combatants and civilians alike even in areas that the Ukrainian army has won back. The growing strength of Russia’s defenses in eastern Ukraine helps explain the disappointing outcome of Ukraine’s long-heralded summer offensive, too. As Russian forces now probe parts of the front line for weakness, the Ukrainian military has adopted an “active defense” position. It has been able to stymie Russian assaults, but that success often comes at a high cost.

16-17 January
Putin and Zelenskiy Are Both Hugging Friends Closer
(Bloomberg) Volodymyr Zelenskiy and Vladimir Putin are hugging their friends close as Russia’s war on Ukraine approaches its third year.
Ukraine’s president was the hot ticket at the World Economic Forum in Davos, seeking to reinvigorate support among the global business and political elite against the Russian leader Zelenskiy labeled a “predator.”
Putin hosted North Korea’s foreign minister at the Kremlin yesterday amid US and South Korean allegations that Pyongyang is supplying Russia with massive amounts of artillery shells and missiles to continue bombarding Ukraine.
For all the warmth toward Zelenskiy in the Swiss Alps, more than $100 billion in military aid and financial support for Ukraine from the US and the European Union remains frozen by political disputes in Washington and Brussels.
That’s encouraged Putin to believe the war is turning in his favor as Russia cranks up defense production and he moves to secure another term in March presidential elections.
Top NATO military officer urges allies and leaders to plan for the unexpected in Ukraine
(AP) — Ukraine is locked in an existential battle for its survival almost two years into its war with Russia and Western armies and political leaders must drastically change the way they help it fend off invading forces, a top NATO military officer said on Wednesday.
At a meeting of the 31-nation alliance’s top brass, the chair of the NATO Military Committee, Admiral Rob Bauer, also said that behind President Vladimir Putin’s rationale for the war is a fear of democracy, in a year marked by elections around the world.
Over two days of talks in Brussels, NATO’s top officers are expected to detail plans for what are set to be the biggest military exercises in Europe since the Cold War later this year. The wargames are meant as a fresh show of strength from NATO and its commitment to defend all allied nations from attack.
Russia’s intense attacks on Ukraine [have] sharply increased civilian casualties in December, UN says
(AP) — Russia’s intense missile and drone attacks across Ukraine in recent weeks sharply increased civilian casualties in December with over 100 killed and nearly 500 injured, the United Nations said in a new report Tuesday.
The United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine said there was a 26.5% increase in civilian casualties last month – from 468 in November to 592 in December. With some reports still pending verification, it said, the increase was likely higher.
Putin says Ukraine’s statehood at risk if pattern of war continues. Putin also slammed the peace formula floated by Ukraine, and called leaders of the West discussing it ‘idiots.’ Putin’s statements about the course of the war have become increasingly confident and aggressive in recent months, with the failure of Ukraine’s counter-offensive to deliver any substantial gains against well entrenched Russian forces.
Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky was at Davos slamming Russia for levelling Ukraine. He called on the West to boost military aid to Kyiv. He said that Putin embodies war and called the Russian President a ‘predator.’

3 January
Russia and Ukraine exchange hundreds of prisoners of war in biggest release so far
Ukrainian authorities said that 230 Ukrainian prisoners of war returned home in the first exchange in almost five months. Russia’s Defense Ministry said that 248 Russian servicemen have been freed under the deal sponsored by the United Arab Emirates.
The UAE’s Foreign Ministry attributed the successful swap to the “strong friendly relations between the UAE and both the Russian Federation and the Republic of Ukraine, which were supported by sustained calls at the highest levels.”
Ukraine-Russia: New Year’s fireworks
Both Ukraine and Russia started the new year with big bangs in their ongoing war. Russia has rained torrents of missiles down on Kyiv, while Ukraine has been blasting away at cities in Western Russia. So why now?

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