Russia has made some gains since last week’s update, but the fact that Ukraine is not completely occupied by Day 11 has surprised the world and certainly Vladimir Putin.
Russia will continue to struggle as they will have to leave forces in each occupied city, every port, every train station, and every airport to maintain control and secure supply lines. As locals and local militias spring up to fight back, more front-line forces will have to be diverted to rear areas. The quagmire will make the war more expensive for Russia and could make it unwinnable.
Russian army and allied separatist forces from the Donbas region have encircled Mariupol, an important port city on the Sea of Azov. As Berdansk fell last week, Mariupol is the last Ukrainian-held port on this sea.
The Russian army has inched closer to Kiev (Kyiv) re-taking the town of Irpin to the Northwest and started a push down the major highway that leads to Kyiv from the West. Kyiv is far from encircled and progress towards the city is slow.
Odesa (Odessa) is the last remaining major port on the Black Sea that has yet to be occupied by Russian forces. The Russian army is currently working to encircle Odesa, but like Kyiv, progress is slow against determined Ukrainian Army defenses.
If Mariupol and Odessa fall, the Russian army will try to push north up the Dnieper River, through Dnipro and onward to the northern border to cut the country in half and divide Ukraine’s defensive forces.
The mayor of Dnipro says he has 1 million armed civilians – which is the city’s entire population – ready to turn the city into another Stalingrad if necessary. The Battle of Stalingrad was the deadliest of WWII and is a prime example of where urban warfare against an armed and determined defender can get expensive.
On the Ground
The most notable event from the last week was the shelling of a Ukrainian nuclear plant by Russian forces. None of the operating reactors were hit and no radiation was released. The plant is now under Russian control while being operated by Ukrainian staff.
Video emerged this weekend of the Ukrainian Army shooting down a Russian attack helicopter and a military jet.
The Chief of the General Staff in Belarus resigned Sunday refusing to fight against Ukraine, it appears he’s not the only one as Belarus was set to join the fight against Ukraine a week ago.
Global leaders are continuing to impose sanctions on Russia, its leaders, and its oligarchs, but this has given Putin no reason to alter his plans.
Arms and money are pouring into Ukraine, but airpower is not.
Last week, the EU had announced that it would arrange for a large number of Sukhoi and Mig fighter jets to be given to Ukraine. Presumably, these would have come from Slovakia, Poland, Bulgaria and Romania.
Slovakia, Bulgaria and Romania backed out almost immediately, but Poland stood fast… for a few days anyway. Ukraine sent some of their pilots to ferry the SU-25 and Mig-29 jets back to their country and just as they arrived, Poland rescinded the offer.
As late as Saturday, the US renewed its pledge to get aircraft to Ukraine. Russia responded almost immediately warning that any country that allowed the use of its airfields to supply or resupply Ukraine aircraft would be considered a combatant in the current conflict.
So far, not a single aircraft has made it from the EU to Ukraine.
Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett traveled to Moscow and Germany on Saturday to meet with German Chancellor Scholz and President Putin. These meetings came after a series of calls between Bennett and Ukraine President Zelensky.
Russia continues to maintain that the invasion of Ukraine could stop at any minute as long as Ukraine completely surrenders and caves to their demands, in full. On Sunday, Russia asserted that the U.S. had supplied Ukraine with plutonium without providing evidence. This came just after Russia said that all evidence that the U.S. had a bio-weapons program in Ukraine had been erased – conveniently…
The United States is sending Vice President Kamala Harris to Poland and Romania, countries that border Ukraine. It is unclear why President Biden isn’t taking the lead role in any diplomacy. But hey, listening to Harris’ recent explanation of the Russian invasion, how could anyone think the U.S. sent the wrong person:
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