The remains of a Russian T90M tank destroyed by a Ukrainian drone near Kharkiv, Ukraine, May 2022
EA on The Pat Kenny Show: Finland and Sweden Set to Join NATO
Friday’s Coverage: Russian Soldiers Refusing to Fight
Source: Institute for the Study of War
UPDATE 1305 GMT:
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky has received a delegation of US Republican Senators in Kyiv.
The delegation was led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and included Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, John Barrasso of Wyoming, and John Cornyn of Texas.
Zelensky said Instagram account:
[This] is a strong signal of bipartisan support for Ukraine from the United States Congress and the American people.
Thank you for your leadership in helping us in our struggle not only for our country, but also for democratic values and freedoms. We really appreciate it.
The visit came just after a lone Republican senator, Rand Paul of Kentucky, held up a $40 billion package of economic, humanitarian, and military aid to Ukraine.
UPDATE 1153 GMT:
With Finland’s application to join NATO expected this weekend, President Sauli Niinistö has spoken with Vladimir Putin.
Niinistö told Putin that “Russia’s massive invasion of Ukraine in Feb. 2022 has altered the security environment of Finland….Finland decides to seek NATO membership in the next few days.”
Putin said Finland’s abandonment of neutrality is a mistake and insisted that the country does not face a security threat.
Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said he had good talks with Turkish counterpart Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan threatened on Friday to block any accession by Finland or Sweden.
Erdoğan said he was objecting because the two countries are “a guest house for terrorist organizations”, an apparent reference to Kurds allegedly supporting the Turkish Kurdish insurgency PKK.
President Niinisto played down the remarks, saying they should be taken calmly.
Following the Haavisto-Çavuşoğlu call, Erdoğan’s advisor Ibrahim Kalin backed away from the veto: “We are not closing the door. But we are basically raising this issue as a matter of national security for Turkey.”
UPDATE 1126 GMT:
Kharkiv Mayor Ihor Terekhov has told the BBC, “Due to the efforts of Kharkiv territorial defence and Ukrainian Armed Forces, the Russians have withdrawn out far from the city area in the direction of the Russian border….[It is] calm in Kharkiv and people are gradually coming back to the city.”
Terekhov said there has been no shelling of Kharkhiv “for the last five days”. The Russians fired only one missile, near Kharkiv airport, and it was downed by anti-air defenses.
UPDATE 1109 GMT:
Foreign Ministers of the G7 nations — Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, and the US — have issued a statement after three days of talks in northern Germany:
We will never recognise borders Russia has attempted to change by military aggression, and will uphold our engagement in the support of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, including Crimea, and all states.
The Ministers committed themselves to expansion of sanctions on sectors on which Russia is dependent and to ongoing military aid to Ukraine.
They warned, “Russia’s war of aggression has generated one of the most severe food and energy crises in recent history which now threatens those most vulnerable across the globe,” and asked China not to support Moscow by undermining international sanctions or justifying Russia’s invasion.
UPDATE 1105 GMT:
Ukraine Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk says negotiations over the besieged Azovstal steel works in Mariupol are focusing on the evacuation of about 60 people — the most seriously wounded and the medical personnel treating them.
The families of the trapped soldiers have appealed to China’s President Xi Jinping to act as a mediator.
Holding a press conference in central Kyiv, the families said time is running out for the soldiers, many of them injured and with dwindling medical supplies and almost no food.
Tanya Vychnyk, who last saw her 21-year-old son Artem in February, said she’s praying for a miracle: “It is hell in there, they are in real hell. They deserve to stand on the surface of the earth and see the sun.”
A soldier still in Azovstal said of about 600 wounded fighters:
Today I was in the hospital. This is a huge gym, school…several dozen bunk beds. Everything else is just on the floor. Fighters are simply lying without limbs, without arms, without legs.
They are dying in large numbers because we can’t provide medical care. There are simply no medicines. Those with severe wounds….It is almost impossible to save them.
UPDATE 0727 GMT:
The BBC has obtained footage of Russian troops shooting two unarmed Ukrainian men in the back, during the Russian occupation of the area around Kyiv in March.
The Russian forces, caught on multiple CCTV cameras, then looted a business.
The BBC reconstructs the killing of Leonid Pilats and his boss from the footage, people whom Leonid phoned, and Ukrainian volunteer fighters who tried to rescue him.
UPDATE 0638 GMT:
Ukraine’s head of military intelligence, Maj. Gen. Kyrylo Budanov, has projected:
Most of the active combat actions will have finished by the end of this year.
As a result, we will renew Ukrainian power in all our territories that we have lost including Donbas and the Crimea.
Budanov also forecast that Russia’s defeat of Ukraine would lead to the removal of Vladimir Putin: “They are moving in this way and it is impossible to stop it.” He added that Putin is in a “very bad psychological and physical condition and he is very sick”.
UPDATE 0632 GMT:
With global supplies affected by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, India’s government is banning wheat exports.
India has about 10% of the world’s grain reserves. In April, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told US President Joe Biden that Delhi was ready to supply the world, easing concerns about global shortages because of Russia’s invasion from Ukraine. The UN’s World Food Programme was in discussions with Indian officials in May, but the Government may have balked because of a persistent heat wave affecting this year’s harvest.
The Commerce Ministry said limited exports will be allowed at the request of individual governments whose own food supply is vulnerable.
The UN’s World Food Programme has warned that an additional 47 million people are at risk of hunger with sharply rising food prices and a fertilizer shortage.
Russia’s occupation or blockade of Ukraine’s seven Black Sea ports has halted the pre-war export of commodities which could feed 400 million people.
Foreign and agricultural ministers of the G7 countries are meeting in Germany to discuss ways of breaking the blockade.
UPDATE 0626 GMT:
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy says “very difficult negotiations” continue for evacuations from Russian-occupied Mariupol in southern Ukraine, including of wounded Ukrainian fighters and of medics from the besieged Azovstal steel works.
Zelenskiy said in his nightly address to the nation, “Everyone in the world who can be the most influential mediator has already been involved in the relevant negotiations.”
The last civilians were finally moved out of Azovstal earlier this month, but Russia has rejected Ukraine’s proposal to free the injured fighters in return for the release of Russian POWs. Instead, Russian forces have stepped up their bombardment of the steel works.
About 1,000 fighters — half of them wounded — are still in Azovstal. About 100,000 civilians remain in Mariupol, at the eastern end of a corridor along the Black Sea and Sea of Azov.
ORIGINAL ENTRY: The US-based Institute for the Study of War assesses that Ukraine has “won the Battle of Kharkiv”, the country’s second-largest city.
Russian forces bombarded, besieged, and tried to overrun Kharkiv in northeast Ukraine — and just over 10 miles from Russia’s border — since the start of the February 24 invasion. But this month, a Ukrainian counter-offensive has pushed the Russians back, taking villages to the north and northeast of the city.
Both the Ukraine military and Western intelligence agencies say the Russians are having to redeploy forces to prevent the counter-offensive reaching the Russian border. That re-deployment is taking units away from Russia’s offensive in eastern Ukraine.
The ISW noted that the “Ukrainian forces prevented Russian troops from encircling, let alone seizing Kharkiv, and then expelled them from around the city, as they did to Russian forces attempting to seize Kyiv” in the opening phase of the invasion.
Source: Institute for the Study of War
The Institute also noted the ongoing difficulties for the Russian offensive trying to seize more territory in the Donbas in eastern Ukraine: “Russian troops continued efforts to advance all along the periphery of the Izyum-Donetsk city salient but made little progress.”
Those difficulties were highlighted on Wednesday when when Ukrainian forces blew up a pontoon bridge to check the Russian offensive.
UK military intelligence concludes that Russia “lost significant armoured manoeuvre elements of at least one Battalion Tactical Group”, when tanks and other armored vehicles were destroyed as well as the bridge across the Siverskyi Donets river in the eastern Luhansk region, near the strategic city of Lysychansk.
For the Donbas offensive, Russia has deployed 22 BTGs, each of which has about 800 troops when at full strength.
The ISW assessed that, amid the Ukrainian resistance and problems with logistics and morale, Russian commanders are narrowing the scope of the offensive.
The Russians are halting efforts to encircle the Ukrainian military along the Izyum-Slovyansk-Debaltseve line. Instead, they will seek the more limited encirclements of the cities of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk in the Luhansk region.
The ISW said the Russians may have finally occupied all of the city of Rubizhne — a claim disputed by local Ukrainian officials — and seized the town of Voevodivka, north of Severodonetsk.
But it concludes that it is “unclear if Russian forces can encircle, let alone capture, Severodonetsk and Lysychansk even if they focus their efforts on that much-reduced objective….They may not have enough additional fresh combat power to offset…losses and continue the offensive on a large enough scale to complete the encirclement, although they will likely continue to try to do so.”