A Ukrainian child moved from the Kherson region to Crimea, October 2022 (EPA-EFE/Rex/Shutterstock)
Tuesday’s Coverage: “Crazy, Chaotic” Russian Shelling on Bakhmut…But Ukrainians Still Hold Out
Source: Institute for the Study of War
UPDATE 1739 GMT:
Visiting Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in Kyiv, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson has held back from a commitment to supply of fighter jets.
We are not ruling anything out, but this is not the time for it. We need an international coalition to take more steps. I fully understand Ukraine’s point of view that we should not take too long. It is an ongoing process.
Sweden has applied to join NATO together with Finland and that puts us in a difficult situation. We are careful with our own defence. We must help Ukraine in a way that does not make it difficult for us to defend ourselves.
Zelenskiy did not show disappointment, saying:
I thank Sweden for the defense package. Archer is one of the best artillery pieces in the world. Sweden is a top five supplier of support to Ukraine and I thank Sweden for that support. It is a clear message about how Sweden views human rights.
UPDATE 1634 GMT:
The London-bassed International Institute of Strategic Studies has supported the US Pentagon’s assessment that Russia has lost up to half of its battle tanks during the invasion of Ukraine.
The report calculates that Russia’s total number of tanks have dropped by 38% from 2,927 to 1,800, with particularly heavy losses of the T-72B3, first delivered to the army in 2013.
In contrast, Ukraine’s tank numbers are estimated to have increased because of captured Russian armor and supplies of Soviet-era tanks from international allies.
IISS chair John Chipman said, “Russia’s actions over the past year have raised questions not only over the competence of its military and senior military leadership, but also over command cohesion.”
The estimate is largely based on open source images from drones, satellites and on the battlefield from February 24 to November 30.
Last week US Assistant Secretary of Defense Celeste Wallander said half of Russia’s main battle tanks have probably been destroyed in combat or captured by Ukraine.
UPDATE 1624 GMT:
A coalition of European countries have announced a $240 million package of military assistance for Ukraine.
The UK, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, and Lithuania will deliver “vital capabilities in the form of artillery ammunition, maritime intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and spare parts for equipment, including Ukraine’s current tanks”.
UPDATE 1256 GMT:
German Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck has said he “cannot understand” why the Swiss Government is refusing to send ammunition for German-made Gepard tanks to Ukraine.
Switzerland has denied requests from Spain, Denmark and Germany to send its armored vehicles, ammunition, and anti-aircraft guns to help Kyiv.
Switzerland’s War Materials Act does not allow the export of war materials if the destination country is involved in an internal or international armed conflict.
The Swiss Government said on Wednesday that it will not expropriate the assets of Russian invididuals, citing the finding of a working group that the confiscation “is inconsistent with the Federal Constitution and the prevailing legal order and violates Switzerland’s international commitments”.
UPDATE 1234 GMT:
The European Union’s 10th round of sanctions on Russia will ban export of vital technology, worth €11 billion ($11.78 billion), which could enable the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the targeted goods will include electronic components for drones and helicopters; spare parts for trucks and jet engines; and construction equipment such as antennas or cranes that have military uses.
The European Union will also ban seven Iranian companies which are selling high-tech goods to Russia. The restriction will supplement the existing asset freezes on any bank accounts held in the EU by Iranian State-linked entities involved in selling drones to Russia.
The EU will also limit Russian exports generating revenues for the State, from roses to chemicals to pipes and tubes. Loopholes will be closed to stop Russian oligarchs from using non-Russian companies, such as private charter jets, or from hiding their assets.
But the EU has held off sanctioning Russia’s nuclear industry in Europe, despite an appeal by Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
Hungary, a client of Russia’s nuclear energy company Rosatom, had threatened to veto the measure.
UPDATE 1209 GMT:
A Russian court has sentenced journalist Maria Ponomarenko has been sentenced to six years in prison and banned from media for five years for “distributing false information about the Russian army”.
Ponomarenko was prosecuted after she posted on social media about the Russian destruction of the Drama Theater in Mariupol in southern Ukraine, killed an estimated 600 people who were sheltering there.
Ponomarenko was seized in April, weeks after the attack, and placed under house arrest in November.
She told the court:
Patriotism is love for the motherland, and love for one’s motherland should not be expressed by encouraging crime.
Attacking your neighbor is a crime. If it is a war – then call it a war. This is a state crime against the army – it is like spitting on the graves of veterans.
UPDATE 0841 GMT:
UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, at the summit of defense ministers in Brussels, has dampened any expectation of British fighter jets being sent to Ukraine.
Wallace said in a TV interview that jets require a “very substantial pit crew” and the UK can provide quicker support through long-range weapons and anti-aircraft missiles.
“I think we can help Ukraine sooner by delivering the effects they need on the battlefield rather than the platform specific request,” he said.
I don’t think it’s going to be in the next few months, or even years, that we are going to necessarily hand over fighter jet, because they are very different weapons systems to you know, handheld anti-tank missiles.
These aircraft come with not only huge sort of capability challenges, you know, you just can’t learn to fly in a week or two, it will take a long time.
ORIGINAL ENTRY: Russia may be committing genocide with the “re-education” of at least 6,000 — and probably many more — Ukrainian children, say researchers from Yale University.
The researchers identified at least 43 camps and other facilities in a “large-scale systematic network” in Russia and in Russian-occupied Crimea. 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.
Read Full Report
Some parents were pressured to agree to send away their children. Others were sent with the consent of their parents for days or weeks and returned as scheduled.
But some children were taken from the sites to be adopted by Russian families or put in foster care in Russia. One mother was told by a site director that children could not be returned because “there is war there”. One boy was told he could return only if Russia recaptured the liberated town of Izyum in northeast Ukraine; another boy was told he would not go home due to his “pro-Ukrainian views”.
Russian authorities implemented school curricula with pro-Kremlin viewpoints and field trips to “patriotic” locations with talks from veterans. Juveniles were instructed in the use of firearms, and military training was given to those as young as 14.
Some parents were told that they must appear in person — to sites as far as 6,230 km (3,900 miles) from Ukraine — to pick up their children.
“A significant portion of these families are low-income and have not been able to afford to make the trip. Some families were forced to sell belongings and travel through four countries to be reunited with their child,” the report noted.
Aides to Vladimir Putin have been significant in the operation. They include Maria Lvova-Belova, the Presidential commissioner for “children’s rights”, who has boasted that 350 children have been adopted by Russian families and more than 1,000 are awaiting adoption.
On January 3, Putin directed Lvova-Belova and occupation heads of administration to “take additional measures to identify minors…left without parental care” in occupied areas so they could be provided with “state social assistance” and “social support”.
A Possible Act of “Genocide”
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.
The researchers said a neutral body must be granted access to the sites and Russia should immediately stop the adoptions of Ukrainian children.
The Russian Embassy in Washington responded with the insistence that Moscow was acting out of kindness:
Russia accepted children who were forced to flee with their families from the shelling….
We do our best to keep underage people in families, and in cases of absence or death of parents and relatives – to transfer orphans under guardianship.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, said on January 26 that Russia is violating the “fundamental principles of child protection” in wartime. UN officials are unable to estimate the number of children put up for adoption or given passports because of Russian obstacles: “We are seeking access all the time, and access has been rather rare, sporadic and not unfettered, if you see what I mean.”
Ukraine’s Presidential advisor for children’s rights, Daria Herasymchuk, said in December that officials have confirmed the deportation of 13,899 children to Russia. Only 125 had been returned.