Picture of 49th week: Ukraine forms the "Offensive Guard"
Read in our latest chronicle about the creation of new Ukrainian assault units, battles in the south and east, the Ukraine-EU summit, the transfer of Leopard-1 tanks to Ukraine, and how the exchange of incandescent lamps with LEDs will help the country. We will tell you how the situation has changed over the last week.
Heavy positional battles continue in the south of Ukraine. The enemy fires mortars, artillery, tanks, and aircraft at Ukrainian-controlled settlements and destroys civilian, residential, and industrial infrastructure.
British intelligence notes that Kherson remains the most constantly bombarded large Ukrainian city outside Donbas. The exact reason why the russian federation is wasting its already expended ammunition reserves in the region is unclear. Most likely, the occupying command seeks to lower the morale of the civilian population and deter any Ukrainian counterattacks across the Dnipro River.
So, this week the occupiers targeted a utility company, destroying and damaging about ten city vehicles. The regional clinical hospital of Kherson was shelled as well. Also, due to the shelling of the port of Kherson by russians, oil products leaked into the Dnipro River.
In the Zaporizhzhia region, the russian military is amassing forces, transferring equipment, and looking for weak points in Ukrainian defenses. However, the Armed Forces of Ukraine controls the situation, and no mass offensive is taking place now.
The Donetsk region remains the hottest destination. Fierce battles for the city of Bakhmut continue. The capture of Bakhmut remains the main operational goal of the russian federation in this direction of the front because the city is the closest to the frontline and for russia, control of the city would open a way for a push northwest, toward the larger cities of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk. According to the Institute for the Study of War analysts, russian military personnel, particularly paratroopers, are likely to replace the depleted forces of the "Wagner Private Military Company" (PMC Wagner) in this region.
For reference: on January 26, the US Treasury Department recognized russia's PMC Wagner as a transnational criminal organization and imposed new sanctions against it and its supporters.
The mercenaries suffered heavy losses during the battles for Bakhmut and during the assault on the city of Soledar.
For reference: on January 13, russia announced its control over the city of Soledar, a salt mine city in the East of Ukraine. The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine confirmed that on January 25. According to Nataliia Kostenko, the deputy permanent representative of Ukraine to the International organizations in Vienna, russia lost more soldiers in the battles for Soledar than in the two wars in Chechnya. This was stated during the OSCE Forum for Security Cooperation meeting, writes Ukrinform.
Due to the transfer of personnel troops of the russian federation, the occupiers still have not exhausted their offensive potential here. The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) does not predict the imminent capture of Bakhmut by russian forces. However, the Ukrainian command may decide to retreat to avoid significant losses.
On February 1, the russians shelled the city of Kramatorsk in the Donetsk region. One of the rockets hit a residential building, killing four people and injuring 18.
In the southwest of the Donetsk region, the russian offensive on the city of Vuhledar continues. The town is of strategic importance for the occupiers, as its seizure will improve the position of their forces in Donbas, divert Ukrainian forces from Bakhmut, and prevent the advance of the Armed Forces of Ukraine to the Crimean "corridor." For Ukraine, the successful defense of Vuhledar provides for inflicting the maximum losses on the russian elite brigades, particularly on the marines.
There is a real possibility that russia will continue to make local gains in this sector, according to British intelligence. However, it is unlikely that russia has sufficient uncommitted troops in the area to achieve an operationally significant breakthrough.
Fierce battles are raging near the city of Kreminna in the Luhansk region, where a Ukrainian counteroffensive takes place, intending to cut off one of the main logistical routes of the occupiers. Due to the constant arrival of russian reserves, the situation for Ukrainian defenders is difficult. Still, the Ukrainian Defense Forces fully control it, noted Serhiy Haydai, the Head of the Luhansk Regional Military Administration.
The situation in the occupied territories
The russian occupiers are forcing employees of state and communal enterprises in the Donetsk region to obtain russian passports, reports the Center of National Resistance. It is noted that the employees were informed that they should receive russian passports by March 1. Anyone who refuses to receive russian documents is threatened with dismissal by the occupiers. Employees of such enterprises are also forced to write statements about the renunciation of Ukrainian citizenship.
"Dual citizenship is allowed in the russian federation. Therefore, russians need renunciation of citizenship precisely for propaganda purposes and to "reinforce" their "rights" to the region by changing its demographic composition," the Center of National Resistance noted.
In the temporarily occupied territories of the Luhansk region, the occupiers gave the local Gauleiters an ultimatum due to the failure of mobilization and the poor logistical support of the russian army. According to this ultimatum, there will be "personnel decisions" if the russian federation does not reach the administrative borders of the region by April 1. The Kremlin blames the collaborators for the failures. To satisfy the occupiers and keep their places, the collaborators started a new wave of mobilization in the region.
The situation on the border with belarus remains stable and under control. No offensive groups of the enemy have been detected on the northern borders so far. Enemy units are being trained on proving grounds in belarus.
The russian federation and belarus announced the end of the joint aviation exercises of the armed forces, which had been going on since mid-January. However, the aviation group of russia didn't return to the permanent airfields. Perhaps the aggressor is planning to strengthen its aviation wing in belarus.
As analysts of the Institute for the Study of War point out, a repeated invasion of the russian federation from the territory of belarus is extremely unlikely. However, putin is trying to pull some units of the Ukrainian army to the northeastern border to disperse its forces before the russian army's offensive in the east and south. According to analysts, the information campaign aiming to mislead the Ukrainian military command on the second invasion from that direction is likely to fail.
Controlled and liberated territories of Ukraine
In Ukraine, the program of exchanging incandescent lamps for LED lamps has started. During the first three days of this program, Ukrainians exchanged more than 750 thousand pieces in Ukrposhta (Ukraine's national post operator) offices. Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal announced that the EU has already purchased 30 million light bulbs, and another 5 million such lamps are expected from France. In total, Ukrainians should receive 50 million lamps.
Currently, the service is available in regional centers (except for the temporarily occupied cities of Donetsk, Luhansk, Simferopol, and Sevastopol) and in the cities of Kryvyi Rih, Kramatorsk, and Pokrovsk. During the second stage, the lamp exchange program will start in the district centers, and by the end of February, the lamps should reach even the smallest villages.
According to the government, modern LED lamps help to save about 80% of electricity compared to old lamps. By replacing 50 million lamps, up to 1 gigawatt of electricity can be saved, making it possible to ease the operation of one nuclear reactor.
Situation with critical infrastructure
A significant deficit has remained in the Ukrainian energy system for the whole week. This resulted from past massive strikes by russian missiles and drones against critical infrastructure facilities. However, at the end of the week, electricity consumption decreased somewhat, also decreasing the power system's deficit, although it remains significant. As of the morning of February 4, no limits were exceeded, and emergency shutdowns were not applied.
In Irpin, a city in the Kyiv region, a small gas-piston power plant with a capacity of 1 megawatt was launched for the first time in Ukraine. This power plant arrived from Austria. It will supply power to the city's critical infrastructure facilities. Unlike a diesel or gasoline generator, such a power plant is a constant, not a backup power source. It is designed for continuous operation during the entire service life.
Taking into consideration the missile terror of the russian federation, decentralization of the Ukrainian energy system is the right step. After all, it is much more challenging to hit hundreds of small-generation objects than one large object. Such ready-made solutions make it possible to quickly provide an uninterrupted energy supply to utility facilities.
Important events in the world that affect the war in Ukraine
For the first time, one of the US courts allowed the prosecutor's office to confiscate $5.4 million belonging to russian-sanctioned oligarch Konstantin Malofeev. This decision is crucial as it paves the way for the further transfer of such funds to Ukraine, and it can become a precedent for other cases.
The United States also introduced new restrictions against seven Iranian legal entities due to their production of drones that russia uses for attacks against Ukraine. There is a possibility that international pressure on Iran will force this country not to strengthen military cooperation with the russian federation.
The Ukraine-EU summit was held in Kyiv on February 3. The European Union leaders assured Ukraine's European integration process is irreversible. It was reiterated that Ukraine should eventually become a member of the EU. And the Ukrainian authorities have expressed their most important hopes to Brussels – to proceed to negotiations on joining the EU as soon as possible, to strengthen sanctions against russia, and to help Ukraine with long-range missiles.
The President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, noted that already in the spring Ukraine is waiting for an interim assessment by the European Commission on how successfully the country fulfills the seven EU requirements. Among those are:
- the Constitutional Court reform,
- the continuation of judiciary reform,
- the fight against corruption,
- the improvement of anti-money laundering legislation,
- the anti-oligarch reform,
- the improvement of media legislation,
- the alteration of legislation on national minorities.
The fulfillment of these requirements is a condition for starting negotiations on Ukraine's accession to the union. In addition, the president reported that one of the important achievements of the summit was that Ukraine and the EU approved the plan of priority actions for 2023-2024 regarding the integration of Ukraine into the internal market of the European Union.
Ukraine has been supported
International partners continue to prepare a "tank fist" for Ukraine which is one of the essential elements of a successful Ukrainian counteroffensive. This week, Germany granted a license to export Leopard 1 tanks to Ukraine. The Leopard 1 was the first main battle tank built for the German Army after World War II. It was produced from the mid-1960s to the mid-1980s. So far, the federal government has only announced the supply of more modern Leopard 2 tanks from Bundeswehr warehouses to Ukraine.
According to a report of the Süddeutsche Zeitung, German arms concerns want to prepare dozens of Leopard 1 tanks for export to Ukraine. However, some problems with the procurement of ammunition have occurred pro tempore.
In general, Ukraine expects to receive 120-140 modern Western tanks in the first wave of aid from the allies, noted the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Dmytro Kuleba.
The Ukrainian military arrived in Germany for training on the Patriot anti-aircraft missile complexes. Training our service members on the Patriot complexes also continues in the USA. Moreover, it is ahead of schedule and can be completed in weeks.
The United States announced a new military aid package for Ukraine of 2.175 billion dollars. It includes Hawk anti-aircraft systems, armored vehicles, Javelin anti-tank systems, artillery ammunition, mortar mines, missiles for HIMARS systems, air reconnaissance radars, 20 counter-battery radars, anti-aircraft guns, machine guns, and ammunition for them.
The EU adopted aid measures within the framework of the European Peace Facility, which provides for further military assistance to the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Such measures include the seventh tranche of aid of 500 million euros and 45 million euros to support the training efforts of the European Union Military Assistance Mission (EUMAM Ukraine). The EU will also train 15,000 more Ukrainian soldiers and allocate 25 million euros for demining. The European Union will also provide Ukraine with 2,400 more generators in addition to the 3,000 delivered since the beginning of the war.
The Japanese government allocates 170 million dollars to Ukraine, which will be directed to emergency recovery projects, particularly the reconstruction of critical infrastructure.
France and Australia will cooperate within the framework of a multimillion-dollar project to produce "several thousand" artillery shells for Ukraine. France will also help Ukraine purchase Ground Master (GM) 200 air defense radars.
Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu said that he is considering providing military aid to Ukraine, including the Israeli air defense system "Iron Dome," which is regarded as one of the best in the world.
The Parliament of Bulgaria adopted a draft decision on recognizing the Holodomor (an artificial famine organized by the leadership of the Soviet Union) in Ukraine in 1932-1933 as genocide and categorically condemned its perpetrators.
Businesses in Ukraine had a hard time surviving the first year of the full-scale war. According to the results of 2022, 83% of companies reported a revenue drop in dollars. The exact number of businesses before the war expected revenue growth in 2022. Only 6% of respondents reported no changes; on the contrary, another 11% increased their incomes. This is stated in the European Business Association survey results (EBA).
In addition, compared to October, the number of companies that felt the impact of missile attacks on their activities almost doubled – from 47% to 89%. The russian shelling resulted in the interruption of work processes, a reduction in the number of productive hours, difficulties in planning, the accumulation of employee fatigue, an increase in costs due to the use of generators, and other negative consequences for the operational work of companies.
Power outages are leading to the anti-rating of wartime challenges, followed by problems with communication and the Internet, problems with reserving employees for the mobilization period, and traveling abroad. Despite the difficulties, all surveyed companies continue to work: 54% of the companies – at full capacity, 46% – with some restrictions.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs began to form assault brigades named the "Offensive Guard" to strengthen the Defense Forces of Ukraine and liberate the occupied territories. It is known that eight such brigades are formed exclusively from volunteers – mainly active police officers, border guards, and national guardsmen.
As the Ministry of Internal Affairs emphasized, people who participated in warfare actions in 2014-2015 and 2022 will form the basis of such brigades. A candidate must be evaluated by a medical military evaluation board and pass a psychological and physical test. All fighters of these brigades will have the same benefits as military personnel and police officers. The training of brigade fighters will last for several months.
A person who wants to join the "Offensive Guard" can submit the appropriate questionnaire via the following link: storm.mvs.gov.ua, where all of the recruiting brigades are presented, or can submit the questionnaire to the Administrative Service Centers.
Ukrainians have been living in a full-scale war for almost a year now. While adults understand what it is and how to live with war (and in it), children have many questions. The Ministry of Health explained how to answer children's "why" questions about the situation in the country:
- Be open to discussing the topic of war. Psychologists note that children seek to understand what is happening. Therefore, you should not avoid talking about things that concern them.
- Involve children in searching for wise answers: reflect and discuss together.
- Use fairy tales, pictures, and stories. Children think figuratively and use fairy tales or stories as examples of behavior etc.
You can learn more about how to talk to children about the war in other "Rubryka"'s articles.
Also, there are some materials about how to support a soldier and where to put used gas cylinders and other waste after blackouts.