Oleg Deripaska with Vladimir Putin in 2006
Thursday’s Coverage: How Russia Lost 130+ Armored Vehicles in the Battle for Vuhledar
Map: Institute for the Study of War
UPDATE 1954 GMT:
The US has sanctioned Russian officials involved in the imprisonment of Kremlin critic Vladimir Kara-Murza.
Kara-Murza was declared a “foreign agent” and arrested in April. He faces more than 30 years in prison on charges of spreading false information about the armed forces.
Those sanctioned included Deputy Justice Minister Oleg Sviridenko; Moscow judge Elena Lenskaya; investigator Andrei Zadachin; “expert witness” Danila Mikheev; and judges Diana Mishchenko and Ilya Kozlov.
UPDATE 1922 GMT:
Ukrainian parents say Russian authorities in occupied areas have forced them to register newborn babies as Russian citizens.
In the areas in the east and south of the country, parents are denied free distribution of essentials unless they comply.
Natalia Lukina said from Kherson city, liberated by a Ukrainian counter-offensive in November:
We told them that the baby was born in Ukraine and is Ukrainian, not Russian….
[But] when we asked for diapers, the Russians told us, “If you come without Russian birth certificates, we will not give you diapers”.
Lukina’s partner Oleksii Markelov said that most parents gave way because “there wasn’t a penny of money”.
However, others delayed visiting Russian-controlled registry offices until the occupation was ended, said Olena Klimenko, head of Kherson’s regional registration office.
UPDATE 1625 GMT:
The Ukraine military says it has downed a Russian Su-34 fighter jet over the Russian proxy “Donetsk People’s Republic” in eastern Ukraine.
The Russian proxy mayor of Yenakiieve, Roman Khramenkov, confirmed the jet crashed, saying the pilots ejected. However, he refrained from identifying it as Russian: “The aircraft is unambiguously military, but it is still impossible to say who it belongs to.”
He added that the location of the pilots is “currently problematic to establish”.
Ukrainian air defense downed a Russian fighter jet today, General Staff of Ukraine's Armed Forces reports
Russian fighter jet Su-34 was downed at around 1:30 pm near Yenakiyeve in Donetsk Oblast, eastern Ukraine.
— Euromaidan Press (@EuromaidanPress) March 3, 2023
UPDATE 1205 GMT:
The Belarusian regime of Vladimir Putin’s ally Alexander Lukashenko has sentenced Nobel Prize laureate Ales Bialiatski to 10 years in prison.
Bialiatski, the founder of the human rights group Viasna, was detained in July 2022 and charged with smuggling cash into Belarus to fund his group’s activities. He was sentenced alongside Viasna colleagues Valentin Stefanovich, Vladimir Labkovich, and Dmitry Solovyov.
Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the Belarus opposition leader in exile, tweeted:
The sentencing of @viasna96 human rights defenders today – including #NobelPeacePrize laureate Ales Bialiatski – is simply appalling. Ales has dedicated his life to fighting against tyranny. He is a true hero of #Belarus & will be honored long after the dictator is forgotten. pic.twitter.com/siSwoYGYWn
— Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya (@Tsihanouskaya) March 3, 2023
In October, Bialiatski, the Russian human rights organization Memorial, and Ukraine’s Center for Civil Liberties were jointed awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
UPDATE 1024 GMT:
Russian filmmaker Karen Shakhnazarov breaks ranks on State TV, saying, “We need to admit that we could lose. I don’t agree with those who say, ‘Don’t say that! We’ll win!’….You have to be able to look truth in the eyes.”
I haven’t seen anything like this on Russian state TV since Ukraine’s counter-offensives last year
Karen Shakhnazarov says Russia needs to recognise the fact that it might lose and that anyone who thinks the West is about to fall apart is deluding themselves pic.twitter.com/FpPQDR2txo
— Francis Scarr (@francis_scarr) March 2, 2023
UPDATE 0907 GMT:
The US is hosting war planning exercises in Germany for Ukrainian military officers, considering battlefield decisions in the next phase of the fight against Russia’s invasion.
The multi-day, tabletop exercises are taking place at a war-gaming facility at a US Army base in Wiesbaden, where Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley visited on Thursday.
Milley told reporters:
No one is sitting there telling the Ukrainians, go left or go right or do this or do that. That is not the job of the international community.
All we’re doing is setting up the framework and the mechanics to allow the Ukrainians to self-learn, to learn against a situation, or various scenarios.
UPDATE 0859 GMT:
Germany has asked Switzerland to sell some of its decommissioned Leopard 2 tanks back to the German manufacturer Rheinmetall.
The sale would allow European Union and NATO members to backfill gaps in stocks as they send tanks, including Leopard 2s, to Ukraine.
Swiss law prohibits the direct provision of arms to a protagonist in a conflict.
German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius and Economics Minister Robert Habeck made the request to Swiss Defence Minister Viola Amherd in a letter on February 23.
UPDATE 0816 GMT:
The death toll from Russia’s demolition of an apartment block in Zaporizhzhia city on Thursday has risen to five, with another 10 people missing.
One person was killed and 17 injured in more than 360 attacks on the Kherson region in southern Ukraine on Thursday. A 33-year-old tractor driver has been slain this morning by shelling.
Two civilians were slain and five injured in the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine.
UPDATE 0802 GMT:
Russian forces have blown up a key bridge in their nine-month assault on Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine.
Ukrainian police in the Donetsk region said the bridge between Bakhmut and the village of Khromove was attacked overnight. They said they hope to repair it in the coming days, as it is the last main supply route from Bakhmut to the city of Chasiv Yar.
Police said Ukrainian defenders can still reach Bakhmut through dirt tracks and fields.
“Fighting is going on in Bakhmut round the clock….The situation is critical,” Volodymyr Nazarenko, a National Guard deputy commander, told national radio.
Ukrainian Commander of Eastern Forces Col. Gen. Oleksandr Syrskyi visited troops in Bakhmut today, proving there’s still a road into the city. He said Russians increasing forces, including units of Wagner & regular army. “Intense fighting in and around the city.” via Land Forces pic.twitter.com/vbG7MTd83k
— Christopher Miller (@ChristopherJM) March 3, 2023
UPDATE 0757 GMT:
US officials say the Biden Administration will announce a new $400 military aid package for Ukraine.
The assistance will consist of ammunition, including for HIMARS medium-range rocket system and for Bradley Fighting Vehicles, and armored vehicle launched bridges.
National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby confirmed, “The US will have another round of assistance for Ukraine coming tomorrow. And it will include mostly ammunitions and munitions that the Ukrainians will need for the systems that they already have, like the HIMARs and the artillery.”
The US has provided almost $32 billion in weapons and equipment for Ukraine’s defense against the Russian invasion.
UPDATE 0723 GMT:
Mikhail Abdalkin, a deputy of the regional Duma in Samara in southwest Russia, has been charged with “discrediting the army”.
The offense? With noodles draped over his ears, Abdlakin watched a livestream of Vladimir Putin’s February 20 address to the Russian Parliament.
Abdalkin posted the clip on social media two days later, writing, “I’m fully in support, I fully agree, excellent presentation. I haven’t heard anything like it in the past 23 years. I’m pleasantly surprised.”
Mikhail Abdalkin, a Communist local politician in Samara Region, is in hot water after posting this video of himself watching Putin’s big address earlier this week
For those who don’t speak Russian, the idiom "to hang noodles on someone’s ears" means to tell them lies pic.twitter.com/FlFPEY2Seq
— Francis Scarr (@francis_scarr) February 24, 2023
The Samara Duma said the deputy should be “publicly censured” and expelled from the Communist Party.
Abdalkin said on Thursday, “We’ll fight to prove my non-involvement and innocence.”
UPDATE 0719 GMT:
One civilian has been killed in Russia’s latest across the Kharkiv region in northeast Ukraine.
An elderly woman was slain in the village of Podoly in the Kupyansk district.
ORIGINAL ENTRY: Acknowledging the effect of sanctions over Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska says the country could run of money in 2024.
Deripaska told an investment conference in Siberia on Thursday, “There will be no money already next year. We will need foreign investors.”
He said international sanctions have put serious pressure on Russia, so the Kremlin and businesses would have to look to other countries with “serious resources” for investment. Meanwhile, as funds are running low, the Russian State has “already begun to shake us down” for money.
We thought we were a European country. Now, for the next 25 years, we will think more about our Asian past.
The oligarch made his fortune from energy and metals — including Rusal, the largest aluminium producer outside China — and was once the wealthiest man in Russia. But he is now under US, European Union, and EU sanctions, and he is under pressure from the Kremlin.
Last June he said the invasion of Ukraine was a “colossal mistake” and questioned “whose victory” was being pursued. Russia had “abandoned economically” all that it gained since the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991.
On Thursday he told the Krasnoyarsk Economic Forum that he was “very worried all the time that the state and business are constantly being set against each other.”
The European rating agency Scope warned this week:
Sanctions and the war are constraining Russia’s fiscal flexibility…due to lower energy export revenues, higher war-related spending and a steady decline in GDP.
For now, Russia can finance its deficit relatively easily by drawing down the national wealth fund, set to amount to only 3.7% of GDP by end-2024 from 10.4% of GDP at end-2021.
But Scope said the Kremlin’s heavy spending on the war will harm its economy in the long-term, affecting investment in infrastructure, digitalization, housing, and environmental protection.
Russia’s military spending was expected to total about 3.5 trillion rubles in 2022 but reportedly passed that mark in September.