A Ukrainian soldier walks past graffiti “Bakhmut Loves Ukraine” in the city in the Donetsk region (AP/Libkos)
Monday’s Coverage: How Iran is Supplying Its Most Advanced Drones to Russia
Source: Institute for the Study of War
UPDATE 1820 GMT:
Russia has held at least 6,000 Ukrainian children — and probably many more — in sites for “re-education”, say researchers from Yale University.
They identified at least 43 camps and other facilities in Russian-occupied Crimea and in Russia in a “large-scale systematic network”. Children on the sites included those with parents or familial guardians; and other children in care of Ukrainian State institutions before the Russian invasion. The youngest was 4 months old.
Some children were then adopted by Russian families or put in foster care in Russia. Military training was given to juveniles as young as 14.
Researcher Nathaniel Raymond noted “a clear violation of the 4th Geneva Convention” and possible evidence of genocide, defined by the transfer of children for purposes of changing, altering, or eliminating national identity.
UPDATE 1617 GMT:
A New York Times investigation concludes that American paramedic Pete Reed was killed and a team of aid workers wounded in a targeted strike by Russian forces.
The group was tending to a wounded civilian in Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine on February 2 when they were hit by a Russian anti-tank missile.
Volunteers initially thought the Russian shelling was indiscriminate. But the Times carried out a frame-by-frame analysis that established the deliberate nature of the strike.
One of the vehicles in the convoy was clearly marked with a red cross. However, the Mercedes-Benz which was struck did not have visible medical insignia, and at least one medic was wearing military-style camouflage.
UPDATE 1602 GMT:
Wagner Group head Yevgeny Prigozhin has acknowledged for the first time that he founded and financed the Internet Research Agency, Russia’s social media disinformation and political warfare operation.
“I was never just the financier of the Internet Research Agency. I thought it up, I created it, I managed it for a long time,” Prigozhin said.
The IRA has been central to Russian “hybrid warfare” since its creation in 2014. It was a key part of Moscow’s interference in the 2016 US Presidential election.
The IRA was “created to protect the Russian information space from the West’s boorish and aggressive anti-Russian propaganda”, Prigozhin maintained.
UPDATE 1337 GMT:
Norway has pledged the delivery of eight German-made Leopard 2 battle tanks and other equipment to Ukraine.
Prime minister Jonas Gahr Støre said it was “more crucial than ever to support Ukraine’s fight for freedom”.
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy tweeted on Monday:
Had a phone call with 🇳🇴 PM @jonasgahrstore. Thanked for the new defense package that will strengthen us on land, in the sky & at sea. I’m also grateful for a significant 5-year aid package being prepared for approval in 🇳🇴. We discussed further cooperation. Victorious together!
— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) February 13, 2023
UPDATE 1334 GMT:
Ukrainian forces have blown up a bridge between the city of Bakhmut and Konstantivka, the next major settlement under Ukrainian control in the Donetsk region.
The Ukrainian military is denying that it intends to withdraw from Bakhmut as Russia steps up its nine-month assault.
UPDATE 1055 GMT:
CNN reports on the use of Russia’s released convicts as “cannon fodder” in assaults in eastern Ukraine — and the risk of execution if they express dissent.
In his last message to his wife, Viktor Sevalnev said, “I am being taken to be shot. I lost a lot of people there. Remember this: do not send more people here. It’s enough, they want to kill us all.”
Sevalnev, who was in prison for armed robbery and assault, was in hospital after he was injured and most of his colleagues killed in an assault on a factory outside the small town of Soledar.
He said he feared that he would be taken away for execution. Days later, a closed coffin with his body was sent to his wife in Moscow.
CNN notes that Sevalnev and several convicts say they were recruited not by the Wagner Group mercenaries but by the Russian Defense Ministry.
Pointing to an apparent attempt by the Russian military establishment to eclipse Wagner, Ukrainian intelligence official Andriy Usov said, “They emphasize to us that they are not Wagner, that they were invited officially by the Defense Ministry.”
Vladimir Osechkin of the prisoner rights group Gulagu.net said the Defense Ministry appears to be offering “more favorable terms” than Wagner.
UPDATE 1024 GMT:
Wagner Group founder Yevgeny Prigozhin has stepped up his internal battle with Russia’s defense establishment, blaming them for the loss of a brigade and at least 30 tanks near Vuhledar in eastern Ukraine.
The Gray Zone channel on Telegram, the outlet for Wagner’s mercenaries, claimed the Russian military leadership — jealous of Wagner’s capture of the small town of Soledar last month — launched a hasty and ill-conceived attack on Vuhledar, further to the south in the Donetsk region.
Wow, a damning piece by Prigozhyn's mouthpiece Grey Zone channel, suggests (confidently) that the Vuhledar assault was an attempt by the Rus. MoD to take away some of Wagner's fame after Soledar. A serious attack on MoD with Wagner promising to "protect its prey". pic.twitter.com/lvnMgbExS7
— Dmitri (@wartranslated) February 13, 2023
UPDATE 0907 GMT:
US officials have reportedly told Ukrainian counterparts that Washington cannot supply long-range missiles because the Americans would then have too few.
“Four people with knowledge of the talks said that, in recent meetings at the Pentagon, the officials told the Ukrainians representatives that there are not enought Army Tactical Missile Systems to spare.
Another US official confirmed that one reason for denial of the ATACMS to Kyiv is the American desire to maintain a certain level of the weapons.
Last summer the Biden Administration authorized the supplyof medium-range HIMARS rocket systems, which have helped Ukraine not only stave off Russian attacks but also liberate territory in the south and east of the country.
But the Administration balked at providing the ATACMS, which has a 190-mile range, because it might be used for attacks on targets inside Russia.
Ukraine is considering a request for the purchase of ATACMS from an allied country, using military financing from the US.
South Korea, Poland, Romania, Greece, Turkey, Qatar, and Bahrain all have the systems.
UPDATE 0856 GMT:
Ukraine Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov (R) and his US counterpart Lloyd Austin greet each other before today’s summit of defense ministers in Brussels, Belgium:
‼️In #Brussels began a meeting of defense ministers who are going to discuss assistance to #Ukraine. pic.twitter.com/5IIVfVVe2J
— NEXTA (@nexta_tv) February 14, 2023
UPDATE 0839 GMT:
UK military intelligence says Russian forces, led by Wagner Group mercenaries, have made “further small gains” on the northern outskirts of Bakhmut, including into the village of Krasna Hora.
But the analysts note that Ukrainian defense is holding firm and Russian assaults south of the city have likely made little progress.
The analysts also note that the “continuous offensive efforts” of Russian in the Kremina-Svatove area of the Luhansk region are on “too small a scale to achieve a significant breakthrough”.
They conclude, “Russian forces are being given orders to advance in most sectors, but…they have not massed sufficient offensive combat power on any one axis to achieve a decisive effect.”
The US-based Institute for the Study of War adds, referring to heavy Russian losses such as the decimation of a bridge near Vuhledar, “The Russian military’s use of mobilized personnel as replacements in battle-damaged units is unlikely to generate sufficient offensive capabilities for a large-scale and rapid mechanized advance.”
ORIGINAL ENTRY: Ukrainian military officials say Russian forces have stepped up artillery fire in yet another attempt to overrun Bakhmut in the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine.
But the officials and President Volodymyr Zelenskiy say the defenders continue to hold their ground after nine months of Russian attacks.
Volodymyr Nazarenko, the deputy commander of a Ukrainian battalion, said, “The city, the city’s suburbs, the entire perimeter, and essentially the entire Bakhmut direction and Kostyantynivka are under crazy, chaotic shelling.”
The Ukrainian military reported 16 settlements near the city had been bombarded. It barred aid workers and civilians from entering the city, saying the situation was too dangerous.
In his nightly address to the nation, Zelenskiy praised the defenders, who also reportedly an entire Russian brigade of about 500 troops and 30 tanks near Vuhledar:
I thank all our warriors who prevent the occupier from surrounding Bakhmut, who destroy the enemy in the Vuhledar sector, leaving nothing but scorched marks on the ground, and who hold our other crucial frontline positions.
Analysts say the Russian capture of Bakhmut, with a pre-war population of 70,000, would have little strategic effect. However, the Kremlin — having had no major advance since last July — is anxious for a “victory” before the first anniversary of its invasion on February 24.
See also Ukraine War, Day 354: “Russia Does Not Have Resources For Large-Scale Offensive” Before 1st Anniversary